In the new Suffolk University poll, Trump has edged past Hillary Clinton by a slender margin in North Carolina, but well within the margin of error. Ahead none the less. The unfavorables for both candidates are high, higher than their favorables, and as a sort of extension of that, the undecideds are statistically significant. Especially seeing we’re in the post-Labor Day stretch.

11% were either unsure of who to vote for for president, or unwilling to say who would be their choice. And in the senate race between GOP incumbent Burr and Democrat challenger Deborah Ross, the don’t-know-won’t-say crowd is double the percentages in the presidential race. 22% either don’t know who they’ll vote for, or won’t say who they’ll vote for when it comes to the senate race.

Now, the importance of this election has been broadcast continually for about a year, with even louder cries of how much hangs in the balance since Trump won the nomination of the Republican Party. The Supreme Court. The battle with ISIS and how to keep the nation secure. But especially how to bring back strong economic growth and somehow combat a growing feeling of economic stagnation and lost opportunity that’s backed up by the slow growth numbers and the 6 or 7 million silent army of unemployed middle aged men.

These indeed are key issues and who gets elected president on November 8 matters. As does who holds the Senate.

So are these fairly sizable number of undecideds a case of just now tuning in to the electoral campaigns? Or is it voters showing their clear hesitancy to embrace either candidate? Or voters keeping their choices to themselves in what is as partisan and hostile an electoral environment as America has seen for some time?

Whether North Carolina is indeed a tipping point state, or swing state, or not, every poll from here on in will help clarify the race in ways earlier polls cannot. The Tar Heel State’s 15 electoral college votes are not quite Ohio’s 18 or Pennsylvania’s 20, but it is a significant enough amount. No, it’s not Florida with its 29 electoral votes with the sunshine state’s tight race once again looming large. But maybe it’s a sign that Trump’s tightening the gap is a gaining trend. And if that’s the case, expect Hillary’s campaign to ramp up the attacks to an even nastier level with Trump counter punching as hard as he can. As in the Commander-in-Chief forum moderated/hosted by Matt Lauer, where they each tried to paint the other as unfit to lead the nation’s armed forces. And continued doing so the next day.

Yes, the demographics in Florida are very different from those in North Carolina. Florida being just the kind of place that home boy Rubio should have swept in the primaries. Which means nothing can be taken for granted, except maybe that California will stay deeply blue. So as five thirty eight’s Nate Sliver wrote a few days ago, look at how the polls are in a couple of weeks on the eve of the first debate. If Trump is still ahead in places like North Carolina that means he’s fought off a Democratic challenge in what should have been a safe state for him. Whether that means he’s then got a shot in Florida will depend on if he can keep his focus. And on how bad a debater Hillary really is.

And if the undecideds are still a significant percentage of likely voters on September 25, then 2016 will start shaping up as the defining election that no one wanted to vote in. Let’s hope that’s not the case.

Comments