In various Senate forecasts, North Carolina has looked tough for Republicans. Earlier this week Five Thirty Eight’s Nate Silver gave Republican nominee Thom Tillis only a 50/50 chance of beating Senator Kay Hagan, the Democrat incumbent who rode the Obama wave to unseat Republican Elizabeth Dole in ’08. Two weeks ago the Washington Post gave Republicans an 86% chance of taking over the Senate, but that was without winning North Carolina.
A look at the Real Clear Politics poll of polls, however, shows that the race is not only statistically tied but that the momentum appears to be with Tillis. After a prolonged and expensive media attack, Hagan had crept ahead of Tillis for much of June by about 3 points in the poll of polls. Not only is that lead gone, Tillis has jumped to small lead in the last two polls.
Republican pollster Civitas had Hagan up by 4 points mid-June. Their latest poll, released at the end of July, has Tillis up by 2.
Only now is the race really heating up, which is obviously better news for Tillis than Hagan.
The good news for Hagan is that she has $8 million in her war chest compared to just $1.5 million for Tillis. But as a resident of North Carolina, I can tell you that outside groups are helping to make up the difference in the all-important ad wars.
Other than money, a big Tillis disadvantage is Sean Haugh, a Libertarian on the ballot who is sucking up more votes from Tillis than Hagan. When Haugh is added to the Civitas poll mentioned above, Hagan takes a 2 point lead. These third party candidates do tend to dwindle away to something close to zero by election day, but Tillis shouldn’t count on that.
Hagan’s disadvantages are just as steep. Her approval rating in the state is in the 30s, as is Obama’s, and Tillis is doing a good job of tying Hagan to Obama — and fairly so. She’s voted with the president 95% of the time, including for the ObamaCare boondoggle. Tillis’s approval ratings are also underwater but he’s not as well known as Hagan.
Hagan’s plan is to tie Tillis to his role as the state’s House Speaker. But those ugly budget battles are now over (I won’t bore you with the details) and out of the news and soon to be out of the public’s memory.
Obama’s parade of horrible is almost certainly going to continue to make news straight through to November.
Overall, Hagan has been a terrible Senator for North Carolina. Most unforgivable was that she knowingly and repeatedly lied to us about being able to keep our health insurance and doctors under ObamaCare. And Hagan kept lying to us long after it became obvious that was a lie.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC