An internal memo obtained by Carolina Journal claims Chuck Edwards, candidate for North Carolina’s far western 11th Congressional District, has some momentum toward defeating incumbent U.S. Representative Madison Cawthorn. The memo shows polling data from Edwards’ campaign pollster Glen Bolger with Public Opinion Strategies, a three‑time winner of the “Republican Pollster of the Year.” The memo references a new campaign poll conducted April 2-4 of 300 likely NC-13 GOP primary voters.
Bolger claims that the race has tightened by 12 points in the last three weeks, as incumbent Madison Cawthorn’s ballot support has dropped from 52% to 44%.
In March, Cawthorn led Chuck Edwards 52%-20%, a 32 point lead. In this survey, Cawthorn’s lead has shrunk to 44%-24%.
The April poll shows six other candidates combine for 15%, and another 16% are undecided.
Hoping to capitalize on the shift, the memo outlines a plan inside the Edwards campaign to call for outside help in closing the gap. Bolger’s research indicates the more the voters know about the two candidates, the better Mr. Edwards preforms.
Among the findings:
- Among the 60% of voters who have heard of both candidates, it is a 34% Edwards/38% Cawthorn race.
- Among the 37% who have an opinion of both candidates, it is a 41% Edwards/35% Cawthorn ballot test.
- Cawthorn’s image has shifted a net 20 points negative, which indicates further ballot tightening for the incumbent.
- In March, Cawthorn had a 62% favorable/24% unfavorable image, a plus 38 image. Now his image has dropped to 53% fav/35% unfav, a plus 18 image.
The survey indicates the recent wave of negative publicity is taking a toll on Cawthorn, including a spotty attendance record in Congress, multiple charges of speeding and driving without a valid license, and calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug.”
Cawthorn issued a statement saying the media misconstrued his words.
“Corruption and unethical activities exist in Washington,” Cawthorn tweeted. “It’s an indisputable fact. If you don’t think that’s true, you’ve not witnessed the Swamp. I will not back down from the mob, I will not let them win,” Cawthorn added.
When poll respondents were asked:
“Has what you’ve seen, read, or heard over the last few weeks regarding Madison Cawthorn given you a more favorable or less favorable impression of him?”
GOP primary voters absolutely torch Cawthorn. Fully 87% have seen, read, or heard something, with 22% more favorable and 51% less favorable (the remainder say “no difference”).
With six weeks remaining in the campaign Cawthorn can claim a strong position. He is still leading the race by 20 points and is polling well above the 30% threshold to avoid a run-off.
Cawthorn has also developed a loyal base of donors and has significant resources at his disposal.
The Cawthorn campaign is also expecting a boost from him appearing with former President Trump at an upcoming rally.
“What started out as a competitive race has only gotten tighter,” wrote Bolger. “Cawthorn is losing the campaign battle. The Edwards campaign needs some help from friends further defining Cawthorn, so that Edwards can continue to work on raising his own name ID and favorables. While Cawthorn leads, it is a tenuous one. Cawthorn’s negatives are self-inflicted, driven by his comment and actions. There has been no paid media informing voters of his negatives. Once there is lead on the target, Cawthorn’s plunge should accelerate.”
The Cawthorn campaign is busy this week promoting the Save America Rally in Selma, N.C. on Saturday where Cawthorn is scheduled to appear with former president Donald Trump.