Civitas is out with a new poll, and it shows Speaker of the House Thom Tillis with a slight lead over Democratic incumbent senator Kay Hagan.
Tillis – 39%
Hagan – 36%
Haugh – 8%
This is the second poll which finds the Libertarian candidate, Sean Haugh, with unusually high support. Maybe that PPP poll, showing Haugh with 11%, wasn’t garbage after all. But Haugh shouldn’t get anywhere near that level of support come November. In all likelihood, he’ll end up with around 2%-3. 4%, tops. Now, what happens if we take Haugh out of the equation?
General election (Haugh excluded)
Tillis – 46%
Hagan – 41%
Apparently, Haugh is taking support away from Tillis. In a race bound to be very close, it’s possible he could be a spoiler. So why is Haugh polling so well at the moment? I imagine it’s because of conservative discontent with Tillis. Remember, a majority of Republican primary voters did not vote for Tillis, despite his huge advantage in money. He’ll have to shore up his right flank, which is why doing things like supporting fracking comes into play. But he shouldn’t go overboard: the middle is still absolutely crucial, and a lot of those Haugh voters should come back into the Tillis fold eventually. Or not vote. It should be noted, also, that this poll is of registered voters, not likely voters, meaning that Civitas is probably underestimating Tillis’s lead.
Obama Approval 45%/54%
McCrory Approval 48%/38%
Interesting. So according to Civitas, McCrory is actually pretty popular. (Just two months ago, McCrory was in negative territory, according to Civitas). Perhaps McCrory’s approval tends to rebound when the legislature is out of session and he’s out of the spotlight? If that’s the case, the next poll might find voters down on the governor once again. (Note: this is actually McCrory’s favorable rating. Maybe voters like McCrory as a person, but find his performance as governor underwhelming? More likely, though, the favorable rating and the approval rating are closely tied together.)
Reelect Kay Hagan, or Time for Someone New?
55% Someone New
This is a recurring question that pollsters use, and it’s almost always useless. Well, we know that Hagan will definitely win at least 35%, but that’s not exactly huge news. This result confirms that voters are down on Hagan, but this election will be a choice, not necessarily a referendum on her performance.
Vote Based on State Issues or National Issues?
51% National Issues
41% State Issues
The higher the percentage voting based on state issues, the better for Hagan. We should not expect, before the campaign begins in earnest, a large percentage voting on state issues, as national issues always trump state level goings-on. But if Hagan can make changes in NC part of the debate, that’s to her benefit.
Senate Race (by Race)
The sample is 72% white, 22% black, 5% other. Since this is a registered voters poll, the black proportion is a little on the high side. If Hagan can actually get African Americans to constitute 22% of the electorate, she’ll be in good shape, but that’s near-Obama levels of turnout that she can’t bank on.
35% GOP, 45% DEM, 20% UNA
This sample is representative of North Carolina’s registered voters.
GOP voters in North Carolina are more unified behind their party nominee than their Democratic counterparts, unremarkable for this state. Unaffiliated voters, who are likely to be GOP-leaning in North Carolina, give Tillis a huge 20-point lead.
Tillis leads with both women and men. The women numbers should concern Hagan. If she fails to win women voters, she’s done for. The solution? Take a page from the Obama campaign playbook and talk about issues pertinent to those voters.
Those Undecided Voters
Now, let’s look at the “hard” undecided (e.g., they have absolutely no clue who they plan to vote for and do not lean toward one of the candidates) in the Senate race. They’re about 10% of the registered voters in this survey. They tend to be (1) residents of the Triangle, the Piedmont Triad, or Charlotte, (2) women, (3) younger than average, (4) registered as Democrat or unaffiliated, (5) moderate, and (6) white. This should not be construed as representing the “profile” of the typical undecided voter in this race, this is merely the groups representing pluralities of undecideds in each category. The undecided voters seem to be Democratic-leaning, but not overwhelmingly so, and they could end up not voting at all, which would probably not be a good thing for the Hagan campaign.
Averaging the Polls
In the past month, we’ve seen polls from Rasmussen, Public Policy Polling, and now Civitas (National Research). Let’s put them together and see what we find:
Tillis – 40%
Hagan – 39%
Haugh – 8%
Tillis leads by the slimmest of margins. Hagan can take solace in that the undecided voters here would probably be more responsive to a Democratic campaign. Tillis should be happy that he leads Hagan, in a registered voter sample, despite Haugh taking some of his support. Both candidates have jobs to do. At this point, Hagan’s job looks a little harder.
John Wynne is the “conservative voice” at PoliticsNC, where he also provides polling analysis and commentary on legislative campaigns. When not writing about politics, he enjoys gardening and listening to opera. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.