PPP’s latest poll finds that not much has changed: Hagan is still tied or trailing her Republican challengers. Beyond that, it finds that Thom Tillis still hasn’t put much distance between himself and the rest of the Republican field. Let’s take a look, once again, at the numbers:
(Numbers in parentheses indicates change in margin from last poll
45% Alexander, 38% Hagan (N/A)
43% Brannon, 40% Hagan (+1)
42% Harris, 40% Hagan (no change)
42% Tillis, 40% Hagan (+1)
41% Grant, 39% Hagan (+1)
40% Hagan, 40% Kryn (N/A)
The biggest surprise here is how well Ted Alexander does against Hagan. He leads her by 7 points. The next-closest challenger beats Hagan by only 3 points. What about Alexander, an unknown candidate, causes him to do so well compared to other unknowns in the field? I have no idea, however it’s worth noting that Alexander probably peels votes away from Tillis in the primary.
Beyond that, Hagan’s inability to crack 40% ought to be very worrisome to those supporting her candidacy. The ads running against her have taken a serious toll on her image, which is now completely inseparable from Obama and Obamacare.
(Numbers in parentheses indicates change in support from last poll
Undecided – 34% (-10)
Tillis – 20% (+1)
Brannon – 13% (+2)
Grant – 13% (+2)
Alexander – 10% (N/A)
Harris – 8% (no change)
Kryn – 2% (N/A)
The numbers for the primary haven’t shifted much. More people are making up their minds, however, using the term loosely, with the number of undecideds going from 44% last month to 34% this month. Alexander is now in third place, ahead of Mark Harris, who has gotten a lot of attention from the media but has still not made an impression on Republican voters. Brannon and Grant are tied for second. What’s with Grant’s consistently good showing? My guess is that, as the only woman in the field, and with so many unknown candidates, voters are automatically gravitating toward her.
The GOP race still looks to be headed for a runoff. If the election were held today, Tillis would place first and would face a runoff against either Brannon or Grant.
Favorable/Unfavorable (general election voters)
(First number in parentheses is net favorability. Second number is change from last month)
Brannon 10/17 (-7) +2
Harris 10/18 (-8) -1
Hagan 41/50 (-9) +1
Alexander 8/19 (-11) N/A
Grant 8/19 (-11) -4
Kryn 6/19 (-13) N/A
Tillis 15/29 (-14) -1
With general election voters, Brannon has the ‘best’ favorability rating, though it’s still negative at -7. Brannon’s lead in this category is interesting, given the news of late. Tillis is at the bottom, with a -14 favorability rating, which could be an obstacle in a general election. Hagan’s approval rating is 41%, with 50% disapproving. She’s become much better known in the past couple months, but that’s to her detriment. Because of AFP’s ads, she has become known as Obamacare Lady, which is not what her campaign wants. 56% of voters have no opinion about Thom Tillis one way or the other.
Favorable/Unfavorable (primary election voters)
First number: net favorability. Second number: change from last month)
Brannon 15/17 (-2) +4
Tillis 21/24 (-3) -2
Harris 10/18 (-8) +2
Grant 7/17 (-10) +1
Alexander 7/18 (-11) N/A
Kryn 3/17 (-14) N/A
Republicans don’t like any of their candidates, but they dislike Brannon the least. His favorables are pretty much even. It’s the same story with Tillis. Voters really don’t know much about any of the others, which tends to result in a negative opinion by default. Brannon has improved 4 points in net favorability since last poll.
The GOP still has a potentially messy primary in store here. A runoff looks very likely, which means a delayed start to the general election against Hagan in the fall. This might not matter much, since AFP looks like they’re ready to pound Hagan on the airwaves until November.
If Republicans can nominate an electable candidate here, their chances of beating Hagan and taking back the U.S. Senate look very bright. Whoever the GOP nominates is likely to have problems of their own, but there isn’t a perfect candidate waiting in the wings. The next three months are going to be very interesting. Hagan and Democratic groups are getting ready to respond, and the primary is starting to heating up. As long as the GOP doesn’t nominate an unelectable candidate, North Carolina is going to be a major battle for control of the U.S. Senate in November.
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.