In line with other polls, PPP says that Hagan has a good-sized lead in the U.S. Senate race. The results are the same the firm showed last month. While other firms have showed movement in Hagan’s direction, PPP sees the race as steady. Jensen says Hagan is doing well but warns this probably deserves to still be in the toss-up category.

Besides the Senate numbers, this is actually a good poll for Republicans – and a lot of conservatives were stressed that PPP would show Hagan up by even more. With this latest survey, Hagan’s lead in the RCP polling average is now 3.7%. Let’s take a look at the numbers here.

General election
Hagan – 44% (+2)
Tillis – 40% (+2)
Haugh – 5% (-3)

Almost the same undecided number as last time around. Hagan and Tillis both gain 2. Haugh loses 3. At this point, Haugh can still be a spoiler, but he’s not going to be a factor that Republicans lose sleep over. Remember, in a race this close, just about anything can be decisive.

Obama Approval
Approve – 42% (+1)
Disapprove – 53% (-1)

The more popular Obama is, the better for Hagan, of course – and vice-versa. These numbers actually look a little better than his numbers nationally. (In NC, Obama has a very high floor, very low ceiling.)

(Number in parentheses: net favorability. Next number: change in net favorability since last month.)
Hagan 43/48 (-5) +2
Tillis 34/48 (-14) +6
Haugh 8/17 (-9) No change

Hagan’s numbers have improved slightly. Tillis is at -14, not a good number but a real improvement from last month when he was at -20. So while Tillis is certainly not a popular figure, he’s not toxic and that might be enough for him to beat Hagan this year.

General Assembly Approval
18% Approve (-3)
58% Disapprove (+1)

These are some seriously bad numbers for the General Assembly. Perhaps Tillis’s association with that body, and being attacked in the same negative ads, is having an effect on its image. But I don’t think a huge backlash against the legislature is in the works. Voters just don’t like legislative bodies these days, period.

Legislative Democrats Favorability
33% Favorable (+1)
46% Unfavorable (-1)

Legislative Republicans Favorability
33% Favorable (-1)
51% Unfavorable (no change)

Voters don’t like either party in the state legislature. And because of that, General Assembly disapproval crosses party lines. The unfavorable image of state Democrats could keep them from making significant gains now and in the future. (If Democrats were doing better nationally, and Obama wasn’t so unpopular, their numbers here would probably be better.)

Generic Legislative Ballot
44% Republican (+1)
43% Democrat (-1)

Republicans lead on the generic legislative ballot. That doesn’t jibe with very optimistic internal polling from Democratic candidates which shows incumbent Republicans in major trouble. Is it possible that voters are willing to vote for ‘generic’ Republicans, but not their Republican legislator? Or is it more likely that the Democratic internals are wrong and we’re in for a status quo election for the General Assembly?

Bill Clinton Favorability
49% Favorable
39% Unfavorable

This is actually lower than I expected. North Carolina was never a friendly state for Bill Clinton. Perhaps there is some residual animosity to him from the 1990s?

Supreme Court Race
16% Mark Martin
7% Ola Lewis

NASCAR drivers have not been very successful electorally in North Carolina. We’ll see if Mark Martin breaks the pattern.

Supreme Court Race
21% Sam Ervin
13% Bob Hunter

Ervin is favored here, mostly because we’ve never had a legendary U.S. Senator named Bob Hunter.

Supreme Court Race
13% Cheri Beasley
9% Mike Robinson

I’m guessing a lot of people haven’t followed this race much.

Thoughts on the U.S. Senate Race

1. The unwillingness of PPP to say that Hagan has a clear advantage should give Democrats pause. Hagan has probably hit her ceiling. She has a four-point edge over Tillis, with a lot of undecided voters who disapprove of Obama by a 29/61 margin. She shouldn’t be comfortable – at all.

2. Why is Hagan ahead? It’s education, stupid. Hagan and her allies are spending millions of dollars pushing the narrative that Thom Tillis is destroying education and sabotaging the future of the state’s children for the benefit of yacht and jet owners. Right now, that’s overcoming disapproval with Obama and discontent over the national direction.

3. This poll shows Hagan ahead with independents but Tillis winning the usual number of Democrats necessary for a statewide Republican victory. I imagine the reality is the reverse – Tillis is very competitive with independents (many of whom are conservative Republicans in all but name) but Hagan is benefiting from unified support among Democrats, unity that Obama didn’t enjoy in 2008 or 2012.

4. If you’re a Democrat, don’t get complacent. If you’re a Republican, don’t despair. Everything the campaigns are doing seems to indicate that they’re both prepared for a very close contest. There has been some good polling for Hagan lately, but her lead isn’t that much and things could easily turn around. The fundamentals of this race haven’t changed, it’s always been about national issues vs. state issues and which campaign is better at executing their strategy.


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