According to a Public Policy Polling survey released on Wednesday, Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) leads all of her prospective Republican opponents by double digits in North Carolina’s 2014 U.S. Senate election.
The poll finds that Hagan leads state Senate president pro tempore Phil Berger and obstetritian Greg Brannon 49 to 39 percent, state House Speaker Thom Tillis 49 to 38 percent, U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx 49 to 37 percent, U.S. Representative Renee Elmers and former U.S. ambassador Jim Cain 49 to 36 percent, pastor Mark Harris 49 to 35 percent, and former Charlotte city councilwoman Lynn Wheeler 49 to 34 perent.
Hagan holds these comfortable advantages despite remaining relatively unpopular among North Carolina voters; 43 percent approve of the first-term senator, while 45 percent disapprove. Voters dislike the Republican field much more, however. None of the Republicans have a positive favorability rating, and those involved in North Carolina’s increasingly right-wing state government are trending rapidly downwards.
“Berger and Tillis have seen their name identification rise by four to five points in the last month, but that’s not a good thing for them,” PPP director Tom Jensen writes in a statement. “Berger has moved from a -12 favorability spread to -20, and Tillis from a -9 to a -20.” This is almost certainly a result of North Carolinians’ displeasure with their Tea Party representatives.
Currently, Representative Foxx leads the Republican field with 16 percent, followed by Berger, Cain, and Ellmers at 11 percent, Brannon at 7 percent, Tillis at 5 percent, Wheeler at 3 percent, and Harris at 1 percent. Should the controversial, far-right-wing Foxx hold on to her lead, it could significantly help Hagan and the Democrats in the general election.
There’s no overstating the importance of North Carolina’s Senate election to the Democratic Party. Brian Schweitzer’s decision not to run for Senate in Montana leaves Republicans, who need to gain a net six seats for a Senate majority, in very strong position to take full control of Congress. Should Hagan win in Republican-leaning North Carolina, however, then a win by Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mark Begich (D-AK), or Mark Pryor (D-AR) could be enough to keep the Senate under Democratic control.