(The Center Square) — Democrat former state Supreme Court justice Cheri Beasley has raised nearly three times as much as Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Budd in the race for North Carolina’s U.S. Senate seat, yet continues to trail in recent polls.
Campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission through Oct. 27 show Beasley raised a total of more than $34.2 million, compared to $12.7 million for Budd. Beasley reported $31.2 million in disbursements and more than $3 million cash on hand, while Budd spent $12.6 million and reported $1.1 million cash on hand through Oct. 19.
Beasley’s individual contributions totaled $30.9 million, while another $51,200 came from party committee contributions, $1 million from other committee contributions and $1,167 from candidate contributions. Another $2.1 million came to the Beasley campaign through transfers from other authorized committees.
Some of Beasley’s biggest donations have come through ActBlue, the left-leaning nonprofit fundraising software organizational platform; from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; from unions representing labor and teachers entities; Emily’s List; and activist organizations focused on abortion and Democrats.
Budd, meanwhile, collected more than $9 million in total individual contributions, $48,450 in party committee contributions, $1 million from other committee contributions and $265 from candidate contributions. Budd also took in $2.2 million in transfers from other authorized committees and loaned his campaign $275,000.
Budd’s biggest backers include the Senate Conservatives Fund, Winred, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, business PACs and the Club for Growth PAC, among others.
Data compiled by OpenSecrets.org shows Beasley took in $21,000 from business PACs, $237,000 from labor PACs and $701,781 from ideological PACs, while Budd collected $557,917 from business PACs, $5,000 from labor PACs and $469,040 from ideological PACs.
Despite Beasley’s tremendous fundraising advantage, all polls conducted since Oct. 10 show Budd leading the race by at least four percentage points. The most recent Marist poll of 899 likely voters who are "definitely planning to vote" conducted Oct. 17-20 found Budd leading Beasley 49% to 45%, with a margin of error of 4.2%.
Nearly 47% of 600 likely voters in a Civitas Poll conducted Oct. 20-22 said they would vote for Budd, compared to 43% who backed Beasley. Just over 7% remained undecided in the poll, which had a margin of error of 3.99%.
Those results represented a three point improvement for Budd since Civitas’ last poll in September and aligned with an overall shift toward Republicans in recent weeks. The shift is due in large part to independents who now prefer Republicans by 4% after backing Democrats by 6% in September.
In both of the two most recent polls, the economy topped the list for the most important issue for North Carolina voters, with abortion coming in second or third. While Beasley has focused in on abortion rights, Budd has centered his campaign on economic issues, including Democrats’ inability to rein in inflation.
It’s been a similar dynamic in other states with tight U.S. Senate races. In Georgia, where incumbent Democrat U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock led Republican Herschel Walker in most polls in September, Walker has closed the gap in recent weeks and now leads Warnock in five out of the last seven polls.
Much like in North Carolina, Georgia independents favored Walker 49%-35% in a survey of 1,053 likely voters conducted by Rasmussen Reports Oct. 23 to 24. The survey, which had a 3% margin of error, showed 85% of those polled are concerned about the economy, while 61% are very concerned.
Abortion, meanwhile, ranked fourth as an important issue for the 2022 election, behind energy policy, violent crime and illegal immigration.