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North Carolina Senate race tilts toward Cunningham despite scandal, poll shows

NC Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham faces Army Reserve investigation

North Carolina Senate race rocked by an October surprise; Rich Edson reports.

A Monmouth University poll released on Tuesday shows that Democrat Cal Cunningham has increased his lead in the North Carolina's Senate race despite revelations of his extramarital affair with an Army veteran's wife.

Cunningham has 48% support among registered voters compared to 44% support for Republican incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis, according to the poll. Monmouth conducted the poll from Oct. 8 to Oct. 11.

NC DEMOCRAT CAL CUNNINGHAM FACES FEC COMPLAINT OVER CALIFORNIA TRIP AMID AFFAIR

The two candidates were "virtually tied in September’s poll, at 46% for Cunningham and 45% for Tillis," according to Monmouth. The Real Clear Politics polling average of the race shows Cunningham leading Tillis by 5.6 percentage points.

Although voter opinion of Cunningham "flipped from positive to negative" following the sex scandal, only 14% of voters "feel that the sexting revelation disqualifies Cunningham from holding office."

Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham, left, and U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C. greet each other after a televised debate Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020 in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, Pool)

“North Carolinians may frown on Cunningham’s behavior but few think it has any bearing on his fitness for office. In fact, at a time when swing voters have had their fill of hyperpartisanship, it’s possible that this story coming out now could actually hurt Tillis a bit,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a statement.

Some North Carolinians voted before news broke about Cunningham's affair. Military and overseas ballots were mailed out starting Sept. 4. 

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Cunningham was ahead in the polls throughout the summer and raked in a record-setting $28.3 million in donations over the past three months.

Fox News' Megan Henney contributed to this report.

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