Poll Alert! (PPP)

by | Aug 13, 2013 | Carolina Strategic Analysis, Features, Poll Analysis

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Not much has changed since PPP’s poll from last month. Kay Hagan continues to lead all challengers, but she’s below 50%, and it looks like the unpopularity of the state legislature is harming Republican prospects for this seat. In the Republican primary, Virginia Foxx still leads. It’s clear that the summer has failed to see any big developments in the Senate race, though it does look like Hagan is in a stronger position than she was at the start of the year.

Republican field
(Numbers in parentheses indicate change in support from last month)
Undecided – 40% (+5)
Foxx – 18% (+2)
Berger – 9% (-2)
Cain – 9% (-2)
Tillis – 8% (+3)
Brannon – 7% (no change)
Grant – 4% (N/A)
Harris – 4% (+3)
Wheeler – 2% (-1)

There have been a couple of changes since PPP’s last primary poll. Renee Ellmers is no longer a potential candidate, while longshot Heather Grant has officially joined the Republican field. Most of the changes in the numbers from last month, however, are very slight and can be attributed to noise. What’s astonishing is that 40% of Republicans are undecided. This is a wide-open race, and to reach these undecideds it’s largely going to come down to money.

General election
Hagan 46%, Cain 39% (+6)
Hagan 47%, Berger 39% (-1)
Hagan 47%, Tillis 39% (+3)
Hagan 47%, Brannon 38% (+1)
Hagan 48%, Foxx 39% (+3)
Hagan 46%, Harris 37% (+5)
Hagan 47%, Grant 37% (N/A)
Hagan 47%, Wheeler 36% (+4)

Overall, this is a much better poll for Republicans than last month. All contenders except for Berger improved in their matchups against Hagan. This is a good poll for Jim Cain. He’s improved 6 points on his margin against Hagan since last month and is now closer to Hagan than any other candidate, though he still loses by 7 points. It should be stated that most of the undecideds here are Romney voters, so the race should tighten up considerably as the Republican candidates become better known.

Favorable/Unfavorable (general election voters)
Hagan 42/41 (+1)
Harris 7/15 (-8)
Brannon 8/18 (-10)
Grant 8/18 (-10)
Wheeler 6/18 (-12)
Cain 6/20 (-14)
Foxx 18/33 (-15)
Tillis 12/32 (-20)
Berger 8/30 (-22)

Hagan has barely positive approvals at +1. Tillis and Berger sport the worst favorability ratings. It’s not hard to see why – the unpopularity of the past legislative session has made them unpopular with voters. The question is, will voters still hold it against them a year from now? Or will memories of this session fade with the passage of time? The answer to this question will in large part determine their viability against Kay Hagan next year. Politics is an eternity and voters have short memories. Then again, the Hagan campaign will have more than enough money to make sure that voters don’t forget.

Favorable/Unfavorable (primary election voters)
Foxx 28/24 (+4)
Tillis 19/19 (0)
Cain 9/17 (-8)
Harris 6/15 (-9)
Wheeler 6/17 (-11)
Brannon 7/19 (-12)
Grant 5/18 (-13)
Berger 10/25 (-15)

Now here’s a part of the poll that matters. We don’t know what Berger and Cain are going to do, and their presence in polling even if they don’t run could distort the overall numbers in primary polling. But here we’re only looking at the favorability for each candidate on their own.

What do Republican voters think? Well, they’re not in love with any candidate. But they like Foxx the best. She’s the only candidate with positive favorability. Next is Tillis. Republicans are divided on him, but he does better than the rest of the field. All of them have negative favorability ratings. Berger’s is particularly bad at -15. Despite a more moderate reputation, Tillis actually does pretty well here, all things considered. It’s clear that the anti-Tillis sentiment that pervades some blogs is not shared by rank-and-file Republicans, at least not at this early stage. Voters are at least willing to give him a look.

Overall, not much has changed since last month. Hagan receives a markedly mixed reception from NC voters and is certainly vulnerable. How vulnerable will depend on the quality of her Republican opponent, the quality of the campaign they run, and of course the national environment. It’s anyone’s guess at this point how that will all turn out.


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