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Political Analyst: Cunningham’s Affair Scandal Destroys Big Lead in North Carolina Senate Race

Political Analyst: Cunningham’s Affair Scandal Destroys Big Lead in North Carolina Senate Race

“There has been an erosion in Cunningham’s numbers. It’s hard to attribute it to much other than the scandal surrounding Cunningham.”

With election day being just a few days away, a couple of things have become crystal clear about the closely-watched North Carolina Senate race between Sen. Thom Tillis (R) and his Democratic opponent and former state senator Cal Cunningham.

For starters, the race has tightened up considerably since news of Army Reservist Cunningham’s affair with the wife of a wounded Army veteran broke in early October. And by “tightened up,” I mean it’s so close that two recent polls now show the race in a tie. Other polls show either razor-thin leads for either candidate or leads that are mostly within the MOE. Here are screen grabs I took today and Sunday of the latest numbers:

The other thing that’s clear about this race is that the affair scandal has undoubtedly contributed to Cunningham losing momentum. Though media outlets here have been surprisingly brutal towards the married father of two over his repeated dodging of formal interview requests, they’ve been reluctant to make a correlation between the affair scandal and the Senate race becoming much closer down the homestretch.

However, CBS News affiliate WNCN broke that mold in a report they filed Tuesday in which they interviewed an N.C. State professor and political analyst who said the quiet part about loud about how the affair news had obviously hurt Cunningham with North Carolina voters:

In early October, the RealClearPolitics average of polling in the race showed Democrat Cal Cunningham leading incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis (R) by five to six percentage points.

That’s dropped to 1.8 points on average in the final days of the campaign.

“There has been an erosion in Cunningham’s numbers,” said Dr. Andrew Taylor, political analyst at N.C. State University. “It’s hard to attribute it to much other than the scandal surrounding Cunningham.”

As I previously noted, this scandal was bound to take its toll on Cunningham’s campaign at some point down the line, even if polling didn’t reflect it.

From start to finish, Cunningham’s campaign has been about portraying himself as this down-home “family man, character matters, man of honor”-type guy. His ads almost always note that he served in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11. Some of the ads even end with him saying, “in North Carolina, the truth still matters.”

“Character counts/the truth matters” have been central themes for how he’s run his race. Yet, when news breaks that point to how his campaign persona has essentially been a sham, all of a sudden, his personal life is off-limits for discussion?

That is not how it works, and – at least in the polling, anyway – North Carolina voters are letting him know it. According to one WRAL/Survey USA poll taken a couple of weeks ago, this is especially true of female and senior voters.

Cunningham had at least one extramarital affair, possibly two, going on in the midst of a campaign being run in a state that is home to numerous military installations as well as a not-so-small-amount of voters who are still deeply religious. Millions of voters here think honoring your marital vows, and military oaths still mean something.

This is something that even Gov. Roy Cooper (D) seems to understand if his hot mic comments to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden about dragging Cunningham over the finish line and how “frustrating” the situation has become are any indication.

The below clip perhaps best sums up the state of Cunningham’s campaign as election day approaches. In it, the interviewer notes how Cunningham “said he would be here, [but] did not show up”:

If Cunningham keeps this up, he might find that the voters he needs to defeat Tillis next week won’t show up, either.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —


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sex scandal have bene a resume enhancement for most liberal since just after Gary Hart

If he is going to virtue signal with the mask as his prop, he should at least wear it correctly. What an idiot.

Mask below the nose? What a baaaaad little sheep.

    Ironclaw in reply to RestLess. | October 29, 2020 at 7:55 pm

    That’s how I wear them when I absolutely must. But, then, I’m not sick and the damn things don’t stop viruses anyhow, so it’ doesn’t really matter.

Living in Charlotte, the liberal part of NC, I don’t understand this lead Cunningham was supposed to have had? It seems very equally split here in signs etc. How then would that have translated to an easy win for him considering the rest of the state? Then the affair? Is it really the mass left cost money infusion? Are we really that swayed just by ads?

    captmike in reply to scfanjl. | October 29, 2020 at 1:10 pm

    I recently drove the eastern part of the state. I could‘ve counted the number of Cunningham signs on one hand. If scfanjl is correct and Cunningham is not running away with it in Charlotte, he’s toast.

Russian disinformation. Both women must have been KGB agents who set him up. Yeah, let’s go with that.

Definitely lost the Mask Nazi vote.

At least his sister took Cunningham in after this model husband and father got booted out of the house. There’s enough dishonesty in politics to begin with so the voters should reject this clown without question. If he is going to lie to his wife, kids and himself then there will be no problem lying to his constituents.

I realize NC is more purple than red anymore, but I still don’t understand why the Republican candidate was so far behind. Is Tillis flawed? Democrats have behaved abysmally nation-wide since 2016 and their brand ought to be severely tarnished in all but the bluest states.

    snopercod in reply to maxmillion. | October 29, 2020 at 2:30 pm

    Tillis has zero charisma. He’s basically a Rino. I voted for his opponent in the primary. Even under the circumstances, I’ll be surprised if he wins.

I felt his numbers were suspect in the first instance.

MattLauersNob | October 29, 2020 at 2:51 pm

The affair was bad enough but taking his floozy into the marital bed will be a killer for women.

Apparently, Cal couldn’t afford the coverage premium at the Twitter Insurance Group.

Frezz in the hizzy | October 30, 2020 at 7:39 pm

I live in Greensboro and I can tell you that Tillis is a goon. He is like so many of these guys that get elected and act like they are above everything, not wanting to take any position that will be politically compromising. The same thing happened to Richard Burr.

I remember calling his office a few times and getting some real attitude from the stiffs he’s got work in there.

But I will admit that this last year or so he came to his senses and got in line behind Trump, more or less. I think he read the tea leaves and shows that he’s not a total idiot.