RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina Democrats began a statewide tour Monday in the final days leading up to the start of early in-person voting to highlight the election’s potential impact on abortion access as Republicans point to economic concerns driving more undecided voters.
North Carolina is a central battleground with respect to abortion rights.
While nearby states have moved quickly to implement new restrictions, Republicans in the Tar Heel State are waiting until next year to act as they try to win a veto-proof supermajority in the state legislature.
“People can have two priorities at one time,” Bobbie Richardson said, the chair of the NC Democratic Party. “Those people who have not made up their minds, women especially, are still concerned about the fact that they should have access.”
Recent polling has shown more voters citing the economy and inflation as their top concern this year.
In a poll released last month by CBS 17, Emerson College and The Hill, a majority of voters said the U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion decision makes them more likely to vote. At the same time, 41 percent of voters said the economy/inflation is the most decisive factor for them compared to 12 percent who said abortion. The remaining voters cited a variety of other issues.
“Gas prices fluctuate. The cost of everything fluctuates. This decision about a woman’s right to make her own reproductive healthcare choices, that could be a permanent solution that will affect generations of women,” state Rep. Gale Adcock (D-Wake) said.
Long-time Republican political consultant Paul Shumaker, of Capitol Communications, released new data showing how those two issues are weighing on voters’ minds.
When asked specifically whether the economy or abortion rights would have more impact on their voting decisions, 52 percent said the economy compared to 38 percent who said abortion rights.
Polling has shown that North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race between Republican Ted Budd and Democrat Cheri Beasley is a dead heat.
Among undecided voters in that race, 60 percent cited the economy as driving their decision compared to 24 percent who cited abortion rights.
Shumaker noted those numbers were about even in the Raleigh-Durham media market, and in Wake County specifically.
“Midterm elections are about anger management and failed expectations for the party that’s in the White House,” Shumaker said. “Democrats are trying to exploit that issue in order to fix their turnout problem. How well they fix their turnout problem is going to affect how well they do on election night. And, right now they’re not doing a very good job of that.”
Shumaker, who worked on Sen. Thom Tillis’ winning campaign in 2014, said judicial candidates in particular are “heavily focused” on the Raleigh-Durham market as they try to “offset losses in other areas of the state.”
“Democrats have a very tough pathway for victory and that is because the economy is stepping on everything,” he said. “The reality is voters are going into the grocery store every day and they’re also going now to fill up their tanks at the gas station, and they see the sky is falling. That sky is Joe Biden’s bad economy.”