I haven’t taken a close look at polls in awhile but I decided to delve into the recent Civitas and PPP polls to see if I could find any patterns. And I do. There’s a gaping gender gap that Tillis will have to close if he hopes to unseat Hagan.  

In both polls, Hagan leads Tillis by at least 10 points among women while breaking even with Tillis among men. In the PPP poll, Hagan leads Tillis 39-29 among women with Libertarian Sean Haugh picking up 12. In the Civitas poll, the gap is even wider with Hagan holding a 13-point advantage, 46-33, and with women under 45 years old, Hagan holds a daunting 25 point advantage. Can you say GOTV, anyone?

The gap is especially significant because women will make up a majority of the electorate. In 2010, women made up 54% of the voters. Tillis will need to both close the gap and open up a significantly larger lead among men if he hopes to win.

However, Tillis’ problem with women runs deep. He and his team try to pass off the problems as communications issues, but that’s just spin. As speaker he’s overseen policies that anger women, from making access to abortion more difficult to freezing teacher pay. In addition, his foot-in-mouth syndrome includes statements that are insulting to women. Last week, he said Rep. Suzie Hamilton’s defense of film incentives were “likely borne out of emotions” instead of being rational. Can you imagine him saying that about a man? In fact, given the heated debates with the Senate, why hasn’t he said that about some of those guys?

But that’s not Tillis’ only problem. He’s hemorrhaging independent voters. In the PPP poll, Hagan leads by six among independents but in the Civitas poll the margin is twelve. Some of that may be a result of the gender gap but it’s a problem he needs to resolve if he hopes to be competitive. And that’s why his budget tries to undo some of the pain he caused after 2013 legislative session. 

The Republican Revolution that Tillis ran on in the primary never had broad support. It satisfied the corporate North Carolina and tried to mollify the social conservatives and Tea Partiers. In the process, it alienated women and left our public schools, community colleges, and universities hurting. Now, Tillis is beginning to reap what he sowed.