(NEW YORK) — Coronavirus concerns lift former Vice President Joe Biden in North Carolina while the state’s sizable evangelical and rural populations pull for President Donald Trump, producing a dead-heat contest in a state that’s backed Democratic presidential candidates just twice in the last half century.

Biden has 49% support among likely voters in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll in the state, with 48% for Trump. The U.S. Senate race, potentially critical for control of the chamber, is similar, with 49% support for Democrat Cal Cunningham, despite revelations of an extramarital relationship, and 47% for incumbent Republican Thom Tillis.


The presidential race differs from the contest nationally — an ABC/Post poll last week found a 12-point Biden lead — in large part given differing demographics. Most notably, evangelical white Protestants account for 31% of likely voters in North Carolina, compared with 15% nationally. White evangelicals in the state support Trump over Biden by 82-17%.

Rural voters also are part of the difference in this survey, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates; they account for 21% of likely voters nationally but 28% in the state, and back Trump by nearly 2-1, 63-33%. So, too, are very conservative likely voters — 16% nationally but 24% in North Carolina, nearly all for Trump.

Biden pushes back with a 34-point lead among moderate voters, 64-30%, surpassing Hillary Clinton’s 20-point win in this group in 2016; a 68-30% lead in the state’s political, academic and technology hub, the Raleigh-Durham area; and 60-38% among college graduates — the widest Democratic advantage in this group in exit polls since 1988.

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