ppp

It’s poll time again in the NC Senate race. Just yesterday, a new contender, Ted Alexander, emerged on the scene. Since PPP wasn’t in the field yet, these results are arguably obsolete already, but there is a lot of potentially useful information that can be gleaned from here. Let’s take a look:

General election
(Numbers in parentheses indicate change in margin from last poll)
44% Flynn, 42% Hagan (no change)
43% Brannon, 41% Hagan (+1)
43% Harris, 41% Hagan (+2)
42% Grant, 41% Hagan (+1)
42% Tillis, 41% Hagan (+3)

Not a good poll for Hagan; she loses to everybody. In the ‘most improved’ category, it’s Tillis, which might be a result of his television campaign. Last poll, he was the only GOP challenger to trail Hagan, now he leads her by a point. Both Brannon and Harris lead Hagan by 2. At this point, the entire GOP field is pretty much indistinguishable from each other. What’s common to each matchup: voters want an alternative to Hagan. Just about any Republican will do.

Republican field
(Numbers in parentheses indicate change in support from last poll)
Undecided – 44% (no change)
Tillis – 19% (+6)
Brannon – 11% (no change)
Grant – 11% (no change)
Harris – 8% (-4)
Flynn – 7% (-1)

Tillis leads the Republican primary, but not by an overwhelming margin and at this point we’re looking at a runoff situation. Brannon and Grant come in second place. I highly doubt Grant will make it to the runoff, though. Harris has dropped 4 points. What’s going on there? Have they migrated to the Tillis camp?

Tillis’s first ad seemed more geared to the general election. From these results, it looks like he still has more work to do in the primary. His campaign should do everything to avoid a runoff, but one wonders if that’s even possible at this point. (Note: A cooperative runner-up, who in the interest of the party declines to ask for a runoff, would be incredibly helpful here.)

Favorable/Unfavorable (general election voters)
(First number in parentheses is NET favorability. Second number is change from last month)
Grant 9/16 (-7) +5
Harris 9/16 (-7) +5
Brannon 9/18 (-9) +5
Hagan 39/49 (-10) -4
Flynn 7/18 (-11) +2
Tillis 15/28 (-13) +5

For the first time ever, someone other than Kay Hagan or Cherie Berry has the best favorables. This time, it’s a tie between Heather Grant and Mark Harris, who both have a favorability rating of -7. Thus, no one in this race is well-liked. Tillis has the worst favorables, but has improved 5 points from last poll. One might think this is a function of his going on television, but as a mater of fact nearly all the GOP contenders have seen similar improvement. Hagan, on the other hand, has a -10 approval rating, her worst numbers ever. She’s taken a beating because of the television and radio ads running on behalf of conservative groups.

Favorable/Unfavorable (primary election voters)
First number: net favorability. Second number: change in support from last month.)
Tillis 22/23 (-1) +4
Brannon 12/18 (-6) +7
Flynn 8/16 (-8) +5
Harris 8/18 (-10) +2
Grant 6/17 (-11) +10

GOP primary voters don’t like any of their candidates, but they like Tillis the most. His favorability ratings with this crowd are almost even, and this is an improvement from the last poll. But all of the GOP contenders have seen similar improvements. Again, it doesn’t look like his ad is responsible. At -11, Heather Grant has the worst favorability ratings with her own party.

Conclusion: Winners from this poll: Tillis, Flynn, Brannon. Tillis leads the primary, now leads Hagan, and has the best favorable numbers with his own party. Flynn and Brannon both lead Hagan by the most, and Brannon could potentially make the runoff, making things complicated for Tillis.

Losers: Kay Hagan and Mark Harris. Hagan because she’s losing to everyone and has a 39% approval rating. Harris because he’s now in fourth place in the primary. In Harris’s case, it’s due to statistical noise. Hagan, however, should be very concerned at this point. She better hope for a contentious primary, a very flawed general election opponent, and a focus away from Obamacare. She might have to get all those things if she wants a second term.

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: johncwynne@gmail.com.

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