GOP Senator’s Race Is In Trouble, But Polling Disagrees

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Phillip Stucky Political Reporter

Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina hasn’t run a normal campaign, but it appears to be working just fine, if the latest polling in the state is accurate.

Burr currently has very favorable numbers; the latest Quinnipiac University poll revealed that Burr held a six-point-lead in the polls, with 49 percent to 43 percent.

Party insiders worry about where those numbers could go. The political landscape in North Carolina for Republicans is rocky at best. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory owns the “bathroom bill,” and the ensuing economic impact that the resulting boycotts mean to the state.

Fortunately, North Carolina voters appear ready to split their votes based on the office. McCrory’s favorable numbers continue to dive, but Republican nominee Donald Trump edges Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton out narrowly 44 to 43 in the latest Elon University poll.

Democrats believe they can unseat Burr. Democratic groups injected over $6 million into Democratic challenger Deborah Ross’s campaign, a fact that Burr doesn’t mind one bit.

“It’s great. I think anytime they waste money it saves my colleagues from having it go after them,” Burr told Politico about the Democrat’s investment. “Am I complaining that the last [Quinnipiac] poll had me up 6? No! I’m probably in better shape than we dreamed.”

Burr’s war chest is much better funded, even with Ross’s $6 million. Burr raised $8,707,382 in the race as of Sept. 20, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Burr spent a little over $3 million, leaving almost $7 million in remaining spending money through November.

“In this environment you would prefer to have all of your candidates running terrified, and no one would say that he is doing that,” an unnamed Republican strategist told Politico. “He’s not working as hard as he should.”

Republicans fear losing the Senate to Democrats following Donald Trump becoming the Republican Party’s nominee in July. The very powerful Koch donor network decided to donate heavily in Senate campaigns, sending the majority of funds to Senate races in Ohio, New Hampshire, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

Burr benefited heavily from the Koch network’s Senate investment. The National Rifle Association spent $1.9 million in pro-Burr ads so far, and the Koch-backed Americans For Prosperity spent $303,000 recently in issue advocacy that supported Sen. Burr.

Burr defended his actions by telling reporters that while he is in Washington, D.C, he cannot be in campaign mode.

“Has my campaign been running? Yeah it’s been running. When do I have time to go down and be a candidate? I’ve got a full-time job up here,” Burr said. “What I was trying to say was, I go out and do Senate business, don’t come up and ask me campaign questions. Because I’m not a candidate, I’m doing official business.”

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