According to the latest Elon University poll, Kay Hagan is still seeing her numbers deteriorate. While the sample is registered voters instead of likely voters, the poll indicates she is in troubling territory. And it indicates the relentless assault by Americans for Prosperity is working.

According to the poll, Hagan’s approval dropped to 33% and disapproval increased to 49% from a 37-44 split in November. Every other major politician saw their numbers improve, including President Obama, indicating the the AFP ads made the difference.

The race is far from over, but the numbers mean that Hagan needs to respond sooner than later. The AFP ads have shifted from her support of Obamacare to accusing her of lying about the program. The personal attack is much more concerning. Voters tolerate some level of disagreement with elected officials but they won’t vote for somebody they don’t trust.

Hagan needs to find her voice and she needs to find an answer to the accusations. She can’t afford to walk away from reporters like she did when she filed. She’s a U. S. Senator and she’s running for office. People deserve to hear what she has to say.

Hagan needs to own her statements, apologize for the inaccuracies but reiterate her support for health care reform. Her statement could be something like:

“When I said if you like your plan, you can keep it, I was wrong. I said it with the best information I had at the time. While I wish I hadn’t made that statement and apologize to those who feel deceived, I won’t back off my support for health care reform. We may need to fix the program, and it will certainly change over the years, but I won’t accept going back to a time when 15% of people lack health care or people are denied care because of pre-existing conditions. I’ll continue to move America forward, not backward.”

Regardless, she needs to better define herself as the moderate, common sense Senator that she is. National Journal named her the most moderate Senator in the country. She represents the most competitive state in the country. That’s a pretty good fit and people need to know it.

Hagan’s popularity is not going down because of the job she’s done. It’s going down because she is being defined by an outside interest group. She doesn’t need a SuperPac bashing Thom Tillis. She needs one that will help her tell North Carolinians who she is.

Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >

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