Poll link: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2014/PPP_Release_NC_311.pdf
Let’s be frank: PPP is a Democratic-leaning pollster, and they don’t like Thom Tillis. So take their results with a grain of salt. Personally, I’d like to see another pollster conduct a survey on the Republican primary, because I don’t buy these results for a second. Nonetheless, let’s take a step back and just accept these results as true.
Since last month, Hagan’s situation has improved slightly, but it’s still a very close race against all her opponents. The big news, however, is in the Republican primary, where Thom Tillis is now locked in a tie with Greg Brannon. PPP says Tillis’s comments about Obamacare and his gaffe on the minimum wage hurt him, and they use that to justify his drop in support. The problem, of course, is that nobody except the most energized conservative activists heard of Tillis’s Obamacare statement, and the minimum wage issue is more likely to harm him in the general than in the primary.
(Numbers in parentheses indicate change in margin from last poll
45% Alexander, 43% Hagan (-5)
43% Snyder, 42% Hagan (N/A)
43% Bradshaw, 43% Hagan (N/A)
43% Brannon, 43% Hagan (-3)
43% Hagan, 43% Harris (-2)
43% Hagan, 42% Grant (-3)
43% Hagan, 41% Kryn (-2)
45% Hagan, 43% Tillis (-2)
All of Hagan’s Republican challengers lost ground from last poll. Are North Carolinians slowly forgetting their anger about the ACA? Perhaps.
There’s nothing wrong with these results. But take a look at who does worst against Hagan – Edward Kryn, who is not a serious candidate, and Thom Tillis, who trails Hagan by 2. Now look at Greg Brannon. He ties her. Does this mean Brannon is more ‘electable’ than Tillis? Of course not. If voters know anything about Brannon, it’s that he was found liable in a civil trial a month ago. That said, I don’t think Brannon actually polls better than Tillis in the general election at this point in time. Maybe last month, but not now. Of course, I have no evidence for this, other than a Rasmussen poll that had Brannon doing worse than Tillis, but it’s intuition, and usually my intuition is good (except for that post I made about Brannon’s campaign being over).
Numbers in parentheses indicate change in support from last poll
Undecided – 36% (+2)
Tillis – 14% (-6)
Brannon – 14% (+1)
Grant – 11% (-2)
Alexander – 7% (-3)
Harris – 7% (-1)
Bradshaw – 6% (N/A)
Snyder – 4% (N/A)
Kryn – 1% (-1)
Tillis plummets in support, though instability is expected at this point in the primary. The number of undecideds is actually greater from last month. Every single candidate fell in support. Except, that is, for the guy who was found liable in a trial a couple of weeks ago. I’m not saying the results are inaccurate, but they’re definitely suspicious.
Favorable/Unfavorable (general election voters)
First number in parentheses – net favorability. Second number – change in support from last month)
Harris 11/16 (-5) +3
Grant 10/17 (-7) +4
Brannon 10/19 (-9) -2
Hagan 41/50 (-9) No change
Snyder 8/17 (-9) N/A
Alexander 8/19 (-11) No change
Kryn 6/17 (-11) +2
Bradshaw 7/19 (-12) N/A
Tillis 18/37 (-19) -5
This is a poll of general election voters. North Carolinians don’t like either of their options for Senate, even though they have quite a few of them. They dislike Mark Harris the least, who has a -5 favorability rating. Hagan is underwater at 41/50. Tillis is at -19. His favorability rating was already pretty bad, but it dropped 5 points from last month. I can buy that. There was the minimum wage snafu. What I don’t buy is Brannon’s numbers. Being found liable in a much-publicized civil trial should have cost him much more than 2 points.
Favorable/Unfavorable (primary election voters)
(First number: net favorability. Second number: change from last month.)
Harris 12/15 (-3) +5
Brannon 13/17 (-4) -2
Tillis 24/28 (-4) -2
Bradshaw 7/14 (-7) N/A
Snyder 7/15 (-8) N/A
Grant 8/18 (-10) No change
Alexander 6/17 (-11) No change
Kryn 4/17 (-13) +1
Nothing wrong with these results. Best-liked is Mark Harris, followed by Brannon and Tillis. PPP says Tillis’s Obamacare comments hurt him in the primary, but they didn’t hurt him much here. Why? Because nobody heard about Tillis’s Obamacare comments, except for the most engaged political junkies.
Conclusion: It’s hard to discern anything from a poll released by a questionable firm with a history of supporting Democratic candidates, who have many clients in North Carolina. It’s pretty clear that PPP wants Tillis to have a difficult primary. Conservatives should ask themselves why that is.
At this point, the most likely scenario is for a runoff between Tillis and Brannon. Obviously, there are a lot of people invested in making sure that doesn’t happen. This primary is going to be interesting.
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.