Putting the poll thing together

by | Feb 4, 2014 | 2014 Elections, Editor's Blog, NC Politics, Polling, US Senate | 2 comments

Yesterday, Civitas released a poll that indicates the GOP attacks on Kay Hagan are working. Hagan’s favorability and job performance rating are both upside down.  In addition, the percentage of people who say they will definitely vote for someone else is also up.

However, the poll tested registered as opposed to likely voters. Registered voters includes a group of people who will never see the inside of a voting booth. In presidential years, only about 70% of registered voters participate in elections and in non-presidential years, like this one, only about 45% show up. These non-voters are likely less informed than voters and might be more susceptible to advertising messages.

Regardless, the numbers should give the Hagan camp some pause. Her favorability numbers held steady for over a year with about 40% seeing her favorable and about 30% unfavorable. Now, her unfavorable numbers have shot up to 47% even though her favorables have only slipped about 3 points or so. The goal of attack ads is to drive up negatives and apparently those ads defining Hagan are having an impact.

However, the poll is done in a vacuum. Hagan doesn’t have a challenger so while she has been attacked, her opponent has not. In addition, the poll assumes that the race will be a referendum on the president since the generic head-to-head offers qualifiers defining candidates as either supporting or opposing Obama and his policies. That’s far from certain in North Carolina.

While mid-term elections are often a referendum on the job of the incumbent president, this state has had too much upheaval over the past year to make that a given. If Thom Tillis is the nominee, Democrats will try to make the race a referendum on his job as house speaker. If Mark Harris is the nominee, the race will likely look like a culture war highlighting gay marriage and access to abortion. And if somehow Greg Brannon got the nomination, it would be a referendum on the Tea Party.

In essence, this poll is more about Kay Hagan and the political atmosphere than the Senate race. People in North Carolina are probably not real happy and they are blaming the party in the White House, Democrats, slightly more than the party out of power. In that environment, negative ads are sticking pretty easily to an incumbent Senator.  Hagan needs to work on improving her numbers but until she has an actual opponent, the race is still up in the air.


  1. Anderson D. Orr

    I’ll take anything Civitas reports with a grain of salt.
    However, IF Hagan’s favorable numbers have in fact declined, part of the reason could be that her support for the Keystone Pipeline and her tendency to flirt with, or even date, Republican positions is causing her salt to lose savor among her Democratic base.
    Sure, the base will vote for her and defend her when she’s attacked but support for Hagan will be driven more by fear and loathing towards the Republican agenda than affection and respect for her track record as a Democratic US Senator from NC.

  2. Kerri Blanchard

    Civitas Institute is part of the problem in North Carolina. Their poll should be given zero credibility since they are heavily biased in favor of Art Pope and Americans For Prosperity. While I was volunteering for President Obama in the last election, I saw groups of green t-shirted American For Prosperity workers going door to door LYING to people. This group has no principals since they are taking food from the mouths of their neighbors. Don’t align yourself with people who do not value the truth. When you see Him and He is hungry feed Him and your reward will be in heaven.

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