The conventional wisdom has it that Democratic senator Kay Hagan has proved particularly resilient in a year that favors Republicans and state where the GOP establishment was confident in its candidate, state-house speaker Thom Tillis. The latest poll has the race in a dead heat, and the Real Clear Politics average has Hagan up nearly two points.
A GOP strategist working on the race, however, tells me he’s confident in a Tillis victory, and that “we won’t be waiting until the middle of the night to see it.” The strategist knows the Tar Heel State: He worked on Elizabeth Dole’s victorious Senate campaign, on two of Jesse Helms’s races, and on Lauch Faircloth’s 1992 Senate campaign.
He says that, for all the talk about Hagan’s resilience, she’s still a freshman senator with a favorability rating around 42 percent. (The latest survey from Public Policy Polling had her at 41 percent, but it’s worth noting that Tillis’s favorability, at 37 percent, was even lower.)
“Democrats have done a great job spinning people in this town” on Hagan’s strength, the strategist says. He maintains that come Election Day, undecided voters will break for the challenger. The percentage of voters that remains undecided has ranged from 6 percent to 16 percent in recent polls; regardless, it’s a significant number of voters in a race that’s likely to be quite close.