Don’t Sleep On The North Carolina Senate Race. It’s A Real Pickup Opportunity.

3 min readOct 6, 2022

Rahna Epting, MoveOn Executive Director

If you listen to most pundits discuss the races that will decide who controls the Senate next year, you will nearly always hear about the “Big 5”: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia. While protecting those three Democratic incumbents (AZ, NV, and GA) and capitalizing on those two pickup opportunities (PA and WI) are critical this cycle, one state that often gets left out of the conversation is North Carolina.

I am here to tell you–about one month out–not to sleep on the North Carolina Senate race. Like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, it is a real pickup opportunity for Democrats and offers another important chance to help keep and grow our majority in the Senate.

The dynamics of this open-seat race are similar to nearly every other competitive Senate race.

In a race-to-the-bottom primary, a Trump-supporting, election-denying, extreme MAGA Republican, Ted Budd, won the Republican nomination. Like Republicans across the country, Budd has taken extremely unpopular positions, including supporting a national abortion ban, refusing to certify the 2020 election — even after the deadly coup attempt–voting against lower prescription drug costs for seniors and universal background checks for guns, and even voting against protecting marriage equality and interracial marriage.

In fact, Budd has one of the most extreme MAGA voting records of any Republican running in a competitive Senate race this cycle.

And yes, it is true, Democrats have been chasing turning North Carolina blue for a long time. But we were close in 2020. If Democrats had flipped fewer than 37,000 votes in that last cycle, Joe Biden, not Donald Trump, would have won the state. And the race this year is looking even closer. The average of polling done over the last month shows the race between Budd and the Democrat in the race, Cheri Beasley, to be a statistical tie, with Budd up less than 1%.

In other words, it’s a race. And it’s a race we can and should win.

And it’s not like Democrats can’t win statewide in North Carolina. We can. And don’t take my word for it; ask the Democratic governor.

Just over a month out, Democrats are in the position of expanding their playing field, while Republicans are looking to pull resources out of places like Arizona. Such a sentence was unthinkable just a few weeks ago.

So as I was saying, don’t sleep on the North Carolina Senate race. A Beasley win would be huge to keeping and expanding our Senate majority. And we need to be just as invested in North Carolina as we are in the other so-called “Big 5.”

At MoveOn, with our more than 325,000 members in the state, we’re going all-in. North Carolina is going to be added to our final $5.5 million paid media campaign, and we are investing more in our GOTV and voting tripling efforts in the state.

North Carolina is winnable. And we can’t leave anything on the table. Too much is at stake. A Budd win could be the difference between Mitch McConnell being minority leader or majority leader of the United States Senate.

So the Big 5 is now the Big 6.

And we’re all-in for the final month.




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