Morning Consult released a poll this morning that showed Republican Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina hemorrhaging support from members of his own party.
In February, Senator Tillis publicly opposed President Trump’s national emergency over the border wall, going as far as penning an op-ed for the Washington Post outlining his rationale and the importance of Congress as a separate and co-equal branch of government.
Soon after, though, when presented with a clear vote — with or against President Trump — Tillis flipped, to the shock of everyone, and voted against a resolution to override the president. Either position was sure to ruffle feathers amongst one part of his constituency, but clutching both sides of the same issue alienated him from everyone. I’m sure some pretzel-like logic convinced the one-term senator that holding dissonant positions was somehow tenable, but it obviously was not.
Instead of biting the bullet and upsetting moderates or conservatives, Tillis has found a way to do both. Of all Republican Senators, Tillis has the second-lowest approval of his own party within the respective states. Only 53% of North Carolina Republicans approve of him, with one-fifth disapproving. Those are bad enough numbers for a poll of all voters, but abysmal within what should be a solid bloc of support.
Tillis was going to have a difficult enough reelection battle in a state trending blue that has a penchant for one term senators (Richard Burr is an enigma in that regard; I suspect it is become he forgoes socks). It is difficult to see his path to victory without consolidating support within his own party.
Republicans in the state will be hard-pressed to find a better candidate to run against the eventual Democrat, but the conservative wing is also faced with a conundrum: They may not like Tillis very much, he’s their best chance for a Republican to hold the seat, even if that Republican is in Name Only.
Kirk Kovach is a native North Carolinian interested in writing about politics, communication and culture.