RALEIGH – The race for your state’s junior senator is drawing increasing attention with Election Day getting closer. Early polling shows that incumbent Senator Kay Hagan is still the favorite to win it all.
Public Policy Polling surveyed North Carolinians and found that Sen. Hagan is ahead of House Speaker and Republican Senate candidate, Thom Tillis, by 11 points; physician and Tea Party speaker Greg Brannon trails Sen. Hagan by ten points; and the poll shows that State Senator Phil Berger, who has not yet announced his candidacy, also trails Sen. Hagan by ten.
Director of PPP, Tom Jensen, says that Sen. Hagan is ahead, despite her 45 percent disapproval rate, because the Republican field of candidates is just that weak.
“When you look especially at some of the people who’ve gotten mentioned the most as potential candidates, folks like Thom Tillis and Phil Berger, they’re really just not very popular,” Jensen says.
Jensen says part of this unpopularity comes from a general lack of name recognition among the Republican candidates and potential candidates.
The only potential Republican candidate in PPP’s poll who got more than 50 percent name recognition from respondents was U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx. Rep. Foxx also received a plurality of support from Republican voters surveyed by PPP.
Jensen says Rep. Foxx’s popularity comes from making many “inflammatory” remarks that have gotten her national attention and that many of these remarks resonate well with Republican voters in North Carolina.
“At the same time, those things aren’t necessarily popular with general election voters, and I think that’s why you see Foxx running so far behind Hagan,” Jensen says.
Rep. Foxx received national attention for statements on national bills like the Affordable Care Act, which Foxx said Americans should fear more than “any terrorist right now in any country.”
Sen. Hagan polled 12 points ahead of Rep. Foxx.
With the 2014 Senate election more than a year away, Jensen says concerns like poor name recognition will become less and less prominent as the date approaches.
And, while state Republicans remain divided about which candidate to support, Jensen suggests that any support Governor Pat McCrory gives could still be influential for voters.
“He’s having problems with Democrats and Independents, but he’s still very popular with the party base,” Jensen says.
PPP ran a poll early this week that found Gov. McCrory’s approval rating at 40 percent and his disapproval rating at 49 percent.