State Republicans Hold Largest Generic Ballot Lead in History of Our Poll

May 24, 2022

Republicans +6 over Democrats in generic state legislative ballot

Highest margin since CPR began polling in 2014

With less than six months before the general election, Republicans running for state legislature enjoy a historic lead over Democrats.

We’ve polled a generic state legislative ballot 11 times since April 2014. From 2014 to 2020, Republicans held a lead just once – by one percentage point in January 2015.

But in November of 2021, Republicans went up four points – and now they’re ahead by six points.

It’s difficult to overstate the crushing, historically bad environment North Carolina Democrats face. Republicans already enjoy a built-in advantage in state legislative races because their voters are dispersed throughout the state while Democrats are concentrated in a few urban areas. This natural “sorting” results in Republicans winning moderate victories in many legislative districts and Democrats winning huge victories in a few urban districts.

That’s partially why Republicans maintained their majorities in 2020 despite a -4 generic ballot deficit weeks before the election. (The 2020 districts were enacted under court supervision and Democrats publicly said they were fair.) This month’s generic ballot is a full 10-point swing towards Republicans compared to October 2020.

Without a substantial improvement in the state and national mood, North Carolina Republicans are poised to win supermajorities in the state legislature. But the mood hasn’t gotten better for Democrats in recent months – it’s actually gotten worse. One culprit who bears responsibility for much of the Democrats’ problems on the generic ballot is President Joe Biden. For the first in the Biden presidency, a majority of his own party give the economy poor marks. FiveThirtyEight’s approval tracker, which combines multiple polls, puts Biden at the lowest mark of his presidency: 54.6% disapprove and 41.0% approve.  But Biden’s numbers in NC are even worse than his national averages with only 39% of voters holding a favorable view of Biden and 56% holding an unfavorable one — some of the worst numbers we’ve ever seen for a president in our polling. Voters’ mounting frustration with their present leaders also shows up in the their assessment of the direction of the country (26% right track/68% wrong track) and the state (33% right track/62% wrong track).

A recent CNN headline sums up the headwinds: “It’s not just Latinos and younger voters. Democrats are slipping among Black voters too.”

See the crosstabs here: NC Statewide Survey Political Environment