GOP Senate race jumbled, Tillis’ numbers fall

Posted by John Frank on December 10, 2013 

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Speaker of the N.C. House Thom Tillis shakes hands with other Representatives after the House completed its final business and adjourned, ending the legislative session at the Legislative Bldg. in Raleigh, NC on July 26, 2013.

CHRIS SEWARD — cseward@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

Thom Tillis’ stock in the U.S. Senate race is falling.

A new Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday shows the House speaker’s support in the Republican primary dropped from 20 percent a month ago to 13 percent in December.

Tillis – the establishment candidate backed by Karl Rove, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner – took 13 percent in a hypothetical match up against his GOP rivals. All five Republican candidates are clumped within 5 points in a poll with a 4.3 percent margin of error, making the race essentially a tie. A plurality – 44 percent – of Republican primary voters are still undecided in the race.

Tillis took 20 percent in the Democratic polling firm’s November survey, finishing six points ahead of his closest challenger, Rev. Mark Harris. But now Harris is one point behind at 12 percent, followed by Heather Grant and Greg Brannon at 11 percent and Bill Flynn at 8 percent.

The change is possibly attributed to two factors: Flynn entered the race since the last poll and further fractures the field and PPP’s survey landed last weekend just as the Senate Majority PAC began airing TV ads boosting Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and attacking Tillis.

Tillis’ favorability rating among GOP voters is virtually unchanged at 19 percent favorable, 24 percent unfavorable and 58 percent undivided. A month ago, it stood at 21-22-57, putting the changes within the margins. He remains the best known candidate.

The other contenders have more lopsided favorable ratings and remain unknown by 70 percent of the GOP primary voters, the poll found. Harris is at -12 points favorable to unfavorable, while Flynn and Brannon are at -13 and Grant is at -21.

A separate PPP analysis of registered North Carolina voters found Hagan isn’t sitting pretty, with 43 percent approval and 49 percent disapproval. (President Barack Obama is worse at 44 percent to 55 percent in North Carolina.)

In head-to-head match ups, Hagan is statistically tied with all five candidates. Brannon and Flynn best her by two points, 43 percent for Hagan to 45 percent for the GOP rivals. Grant and Harris are tied with Hagan at 43 percent and Tillis is down two points.

The federal health care law remains unpopular in North Carolina, at 38 percent approval to 50 percent disapproval, the poll found. And the implementation of the program is considered unsuccessful by 65 percent of registered voters. Another 30 percent considered it successful.

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