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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) has long appeared to be one of the most vulnerable incumbents on the ballot in November. On paper, her low approval ratings, President Obama’s deep unpopularity in North Carolina, and the more-conservative electorate likely to turn out in an off-year election made her odds extremely long. Especially considering that the most electable Republican, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, fought off his Tea Party challengers to capture the party’s nomination.

But the race isn’t turning out as Republicans hoped.

Hagan has managed to hold a small, but persistent lead over Tillis. The first-term Democrat has a 3.7 percent edge in Real Clear Politics’ poll average, and has not trailed in a public survey of the race in over a month.

Much like many Republican governors, Tillis appears to be a victim of conservative overreach in the state government. Under Tillis’ leadership, North Carolina’s legislature has veered sharply to the right. By enacting generous tax cuts for the rich, deep cuts to unemployment insurance, strict restrictions on abortion, and the worst voter-suppression law in the nation (among other deeply controversial policies), Tillis played an integral role in turning North Carolina into an archconservative’s fantasy. That has given Democrats ample opportunity to attack his record, and helped drive his favorability ratings deep underwater.

One particular issue is proving especially devastating to Tillis’ electoral hopes: education. As House Speaker, Tillis successfully pushed through a budget that provides $481 million less for education than the state budget office had suggested in its continuation budget (which estimates how much must be spent to continue providing the current levels of service). The budget, which passed without a single Democratic vote, also left the state with 5,200 fewer teachers and 3,800 fewer teacher assistants.

This has formed the backbone of a brutal series of ads accusing Tillis of crippling North Carolina’s well-respected school system.

This vicious 30-second television spot from the National Education Association PAC, released on Tuesday, typifies the attacks:

Given Hagan’s robust fundraising, there is no letup in sight; her campaign has already booked $4.8 million in airtime for this month.

Republicans protest that the criticism is unfair, given that North Carolina’s actual spending on education has increased every year since Tillis became Speaker (just by much less than the continuation budget proposed). Nonetheless, education appears to be an incredibly persuasive argument for Hagan’s campaign.

New message-testing data released on Monday by Democracy Corps and the Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund underscore exactly how badly the issue is hurting Tillis. The pollsters presented likely voters in North Carolina with the following statement:

As Speaker of the North Carolina House, Thom Tillis passed a plan that cut five hundred million dollars from our public schools, eliminated 9,000 teaching positions and froze salaries for North Carolina teachers, even though the state currently ranks 46th in teacher pay. And he used that money to help pay for more tax breaks for millionaires and big corporations.

When asked about this, 66 percent said it raises serious doubts in their minds about voting for Tillis, and 43 percent deemed those doubts “very serious.”

By contrast, 80 percent said they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate who would “make early childhood education a priority by ensuring young children in working families get the early education they need to succeed”; of that 80 percent, 54 percent said they would be “much more likely.” Guess which issue Hagan is emphasizing in interviews with local media.

Democrats have long stressed the importance of localizing the Senate elections, especially in red states, if they hope to keep their majority. In North Carolina, that formula appears to be working well.

Screenshot: NEAABS/YouTube

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  • Sand_Cat

    Not much of a surprise: Republicans know that education and critical thought are their greatest enemies.

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    As if the south and midwest isn’t already so far behind CA and the northeast in terms of education, now another GOP bully tries to strongarm his state so he can amass enough revenue for his Big Business cronies. This is what the GOP today is ALL about…scrimping and saving for Big Business. If they can amass of pools of regular revenue just by cutting education, defense and programs most Americans paid half a century for, they figure that lump sum is a nice gift to their campaign donor cronies…until red states wake up and realize it’s their kids they are shortchanging. Conservatism has never been predicated upon Draconian cuts that would disintegrate education.

    • Whatmeworry

      Behind CA in education?? Really based on what measure it certainly isn’t test scores. Spending per pupil yes but that’s a reflection of thug unions

      • bobnstuff

        US News ranks CA number 2 and NC 23. If we want to be all we can be as a country we must improve our education system.

        • Whatmeworry

          again what’s the basis?? Yahoo has an article today about best/worst states to live in, And voter turn out is 1 of the 4 criteria

          • Whatmeworry is Dan M Ketter

            I checked with wikipedia and a press release, and can verify your information is inaccurate.

          • LotusJoan

            Really?? and here I thought you could not post anything less intelligent than your previous post. I take it you are a product of NC’s school system? Wikipedia and a press release now those really are impeccable sources.

          • Whatmeworry is Dan M Ketter

            The Ketter family is of the highest intillagence, and all my data is cross checked on yahoo as well

          • bobnstuff

            There isn’t time or space here to list all the factors in their ranking, it’s about two pages long but they look at a large number of thing including AP class’s overall performance, etc. on a school by school bases and then average them for the state. US News has been doing this for years, you should check out how your local school is doing.

          • Whatmeworry

            That’s because once again your wrong. State ranking for education ranks NC 8 and CA 30 by unbiased sources

        • Sand_Cat

          He never worries about the truth – or, mostly, the lack thereof – in his posts. That must mean US News is part of “our” “liberal” media.

      • Whatmeworry is Dan M Ketter

        Bet those union assembly line workers at Ford Motors made more $$ than desk clerk dannnno! Sorry they wouldn’t let you join their union.

        • Eleanore Whitaker

          CONs love to pay CEOs to sit on their butts all day and point and delegate. In other words, let others use their brains while the CEO brain counts his wealth. How many of the 11 Horizon Deep Water dead and the annual dead miners in VA and WVA wished they had a union…CONs hate teachers because to be a teacher you have to have brains and be progressive. CONS all hate progress. Give them their way and no one today would have a computer much less an automobile to drive to work.

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        CA is No. 1 in Hi-tech, NJ No. 2 according to the most recent US DOL report.

        California? Silicon Valley? NJ? Princeton? Rutgers College of Engineering?

        What has TX got…besides that SMU that prides itself on teaching hi-tech through the prisms of religion. What has AZ got? NM? TN? SC? GA?

        The reasons cons don’t ever measure up is because they never move past coal, oil, tobacco, guns or the military industries. VA…No. 1 military industrialist state according to the US GAO. TX and OK…oil….NC, TN, GA…gun…

        Those are industries that are already so old and such relics they are only able to sustain the states in which they take huge federal tax subsidies to continue to exist.

        Sorry..You are wrong. Test scores show that nearly every one of the red states are not in the top ten in terms of education.

        Spending per pupil is high because blue states value education..not guns, not plantations of Walmart stores that pay lousy wages and not oil that costs taxpayers for those huge $14 billion subsidies every year, not to mention the cost to maintain clean, air, water and soil in blue states that pick up the tab for pollution clean up and then get dumped on by slime ball oil bois for half the cost of spill cleanup.

        The problem with conservatism is that it moves backward…never forward..It has to. How else can CONs pay plantation wages with no benefits and no workplace safety?

        Try again Joi Boi..your CONning days of ripping off blue states to keep antique red state industries in business is coming to a close..Either move your lazy asses forward or plant yourselves…at your own costs.

        • Whatmeworry

          Gees that’s not hard when using unbiased rakings.
          NC 8
          TX 11
          GA 27
          CA 30
          Al 34
          NM 35
          AZ 36
          OK 43
          SC 49
          Guess you views of CA education and ranking are all pre 1960

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            State the source of your post…then we can see how unbiased it really is. Guess your post shows how many red states schools don’t rank in the top 10. Is No. 8 equal to No. 1? You’re post is a joke. If you were trying to prove that red states have the best schools, your post proves exactly the opposite. The only red state in the top 10 according to your list is NC..and I seriously doubt that NC can compete with schools in NY, NJ, CT, MA, VT, NH, PA or DE.

          • Whatmeworry

            top 10 in order MA,VT,NJ,C,PA,RI,KA,NH and NY.
            And No my post was simply pointing out that CA isn’t competitive. So tuck your tail and run along

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            Tuck your own tail in …and those fangs and those clovcn hooves. The top 10 as your post proves are not RED states except for Kansas.

            The reality of education is the end result. If education doesn’t produce highly skilled, highly talented graduates who can compete in today’s No. 1 industry: Hi-tech, the status of any state’s education has no validity.

            The whole point of education is to produce self-reliant individuals who enhance our society. That’s the reason red states fail time and again. Start with their monolithic ideas of keeping those centuries old businesses in place that do not have relevance in today’s world. The world moves states and conservatives never do.

            Education is solely and wholly intended to produce financially independent, self-reliant individuals who are thoroughly prepared for the jobs that will exist in the future..not the jobs that have been in existence for 200 years.

            A simple look at which states are tops in hi-tech..California, Silicon Valley and more recently NJ due to the demand in this state for hi-tech engineers and solar experts. You’d know this if ever you left DogPatch USA.

            If NC, SC, TN, KY, AL, GA, FL and TX are supposed to be examples of the states with great schools, take a look at the monolithic industries in these states. Does their education system turn out masses of relic industry future employees? Or more welfare recipients?

          • Whatmeworry

            Hmmm where are the corporate headquarters for Dell and Apple? its not CA it TX. Where is the new Tesla plant being built NV. The new Boeing plant SC.
            The only industry that CA has is illegals and homo’s its a society that embraces socialism and it shows

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            How sweet….Where is Microsoft located? Where is GM Located? Where is Princeton, MIT, Yale and Harvard. The only jerks who locate in TX do so because Big Oil gets $14 billion a year from the rest of us and uses that as “tax incentives” to try and take over the country and turn it into the United States of TexASS…Sorry…not going to happen.

            Texas is a state that only knows one word, “BIGGER” as in bigger penis brains, bigger bleached blondes, bigger hair, bigger boobs, bigger cowboy hats on phony cowboys and bigger double wide asses.

            Try again. TX is a sand pit with only one religion based university worth any note…SMU…you really need to get over that massive conceit. The only people in this country who fall for that BS state motto, Big Rich Texas, That Whole Other Country, are the same blowhard who live mostly off federal taxes. Sure they locate Apple and Dell..Dell by the way is a Canadian owned company and isn’t doing all that well..As for Apple, it’s CEO is having huge problems with his that Steve Jobs is gone, the new CEO is doing the Texas Two Step BS Bossy Ass routine..I give Dell another 5 years and Apple another 2 years before they get bought out by a Chinese company.

  • Allan Richardson

    There’s that straw man “thug unions” again, no basis in reality. Unions try to do the same thing for their members that the Chamber of Commerce does for THEIR members, with two differences: the CoC members actually ARE acting like “thugs” with their total buy-out of so many politicians, and the CoC does it more successfully because they have the money and the power.

    I would more accurately describe unions as corresponding to the Maquis (the French Resistance), and the CoC/ALEC/Koch conglomerate as the occupying Wehrmacht. Except that nobody is shooting (YET; but the bosses once got away with massacring workers trying to form unions, and they have the lack of ethics to go back to it).

  • Toosay

    The simple fact is – regardless of where NC ranks in education relative to CA – as a native North Carolinian, tHom Tillis is too busy sucking Republican and Koch Bros COCK to care about educating kids. It’s particularly ironic when you consider he was bent over the dais in the General Assembly getting cream-pies from neo-cons and Jerry Sandusky, yet at the same time violently opposes same-sex marriage, along with Phil Berger, as jizz drizzles down the back of their leg under their “godly conservative suits”