foxxy lady

With Cherie Berry out of the race, PPP’s latest poll of the North Carolina Senate contest shows Virginia Foxx leading the Republican field. Hagan is up on all of her opponents from margins ranging from 4% to 9%, but she is below 50, meaning that this could be a competitive contest once the Republican candidate becomes better known. North Carolinians are divided on Hagan. 41% approve, 42% disapprove. Hagan is at the mercy of the national environment; should 2014 be a favorable year for Republicans, her best hope for reelection is an unacceptable or extreme Republican challenger.

Republican field
(Numbers in parentheses indicate change in support from last month)
Undecided – 27% (-1)
Foxx – 23% (+8)
Berger – 11% (+1)
Ellmers – 9% (-1)
Tillis – 9% (+3)
Cain – 8% (+4)
Brannon – 7% (no change)
Harris – 4% (+1)
Wheeler – 3% (no change)

Virginia Foxx is the biggest beneficiary from Cherie Berry’s exit, improving her support by 8%. Since his announcement, Thom Tillis has also picked up support. But perhaps the most surprising statistic is Jim Cain’s 4% improvement. Cain has been practically invisible over the past month, and this increase in support is hard to explain.

General election
Hagan 44, Berger 40 (no change)
Hagan 44, Brannon 40 (+5)
Hagan 45, Tillis 40 (+2)
Hagan 46, Ellmers 39 (+2)
Hagan 46, Foxx 39 (no change)
Hagan 46, Cain 38 (-1)
Hagan 46, Harris 37 (-3)
Hagan 45, Wheeler 36 (+2)

From the poll, it’s actually Phil Berger and Greg Brannon who come closest to Hagan, with Tillis not far behind. That’s a little unusual. The candidate with the most ‘momentum’ is Brannon, even though he is stalled in primary polling. Tillis does a little better against Hagan than last time. Last month he was down 7, now he’s down 5.

Favorable/Unfavorable (general election voters)
Hagan 41/42 (-1)
Foxx 23/27 (-4)
Ellmers 14/23 (-9)
Harris 8/17 (-9)
Tillis 15/24 (-9)
Brannon 7/17 (-10)
Cain 10/20 (-10)
Wheeler 8/18 (-10)
Berger 13/25 (-12)

So Berger performs strongest against Hagan, but has the lowest (net) favorability? That doesn’t make sense. I’m just going to disregard this part of the poll. Either that, or the general election numbers are off or it’s just a weird poll, which happens sometimes. It’s worth noting, however, that all of the candidates have a negative favorability, which goes to show the esteem in which politicians are currently held by the public. Hagan is better-liked than her Republican challengers, but North Carolinians still don’t like her all that much.

Favorable/Unfavorable (primary election voters)
Foxx 33/22 (+11)
Tillis 23/20 (+3)
Ellmers 20/26 (-6)
Harris 9/19 (-10)
Cain 9/22 (-13)
Wheeler 7/20 (-13)
Berger 13/27 (-14)
Brannon 7/22 (-15)

This is, once again, perplexing. Many of these Republican candidates have stronger favorability among the general public than among their own party, which doesn’t make sense. Berger, for instance, has a -12 favorability among general election voters but a -14 favorability here.

I really don’t think Foxx is going to run, so the fact that only she and Tillis have positive numbers among Republicans is a good sign for his candidacy. Although the more vocal elements of the state Tea Party don’t like Tillis, there’s no evidence that rank and file Republicans share that sentiment.

It’s also pretty clear that PPP doesn’t like Tillis. In their press release they seem to imply that Republicans don’t like Tillis and are shopping around for another candidate, but this is defied by their own results. Tillis won’t clear the field by any means, but the fact that he isn’t higher in the polls is less a rejection of Tillis and more of a lack of name recognition. Just to make things clear – 57% of Republican primary voters have no opinion on Thom Tillis. That just goes to show how few people really pay attention to the state legislature.

Just to sum things up – the Senate election is a toss-up, but a bad candidate here can really screw things up. Despite leading this poll, Foxx is unlikely to run. Same with Ellmers. I don’t think Berger will run either, but he is the most likely of the ‘unlikelies’ to run. Tillis, Brannon, and Harris are in. Cain – ?

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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