Under the Dome

Tillis still leads GOP field as undecideds shrink

Thom Tillis still leads the Republican field for U.S. Senate as the margin of undecideds continues to shrink.

In the February survey from Public Policy Polling, Tillis lead the GOP with 20 percent. The next closest challengers are Greg Brannon and Heather Grant at 13 percent, then Ted Alexander at 10 percent.

Tillis' number is roughly the same as January (19 percent) but the field has changed with the exit of Bill Flynn and the addition of long-shot candidate Edward Kryn. One of the biggest changes is the portion of Republican voters polled who remain undecided. It was 44 percent in January and 34 percent in February.

Republican Mark Harris, once viewed as a serious contender, is having trouble breaking from the pack. The PPP poll put him at 8 percent.

Despite the decrease the race remains largely fluid, said Tom Jensen, the pollster for the Raleigh-based Democratic firm. Jensen's spin: "It's interesting to note that Harris, often viewed as the top competitor to Tillis, continues to lag in support compared to Brannon and even Grant and Alexander who aren't viewed as serious candidates. It's taking a long time for this field to really develop."

Most the Republican voters, even if they have a preference in candidate, aren't sure what to make of the contenders. About three-quarters of the field is unsure whether they view the candidates favorably. The exception is Tillis, the House speaker, whose favorability is about even at 21 percent to 24 percent with 54 percent undecided.

The GOP primary poll has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 5.6 percent.

On the Democratic side, first-term incumbent Kay Hagan's poll numbers aren't stellar. Her approval rating is 41 percent with 50 percent disapproval. It's roughly in line with other polls showing her under water. Her numbers have suffered with President Barack Obama's dismal popularity in North Carolina (40 percent, his lowest point in the state, PPP says) and unfavorable views of the Affordable Care Act.

In hypothetical matchups, Hagan falls behind most of the Republican field. The largest margin is 7 percentage points to former Shelby mayor Ted Alexander, though the numbers seems dubious given his recent entry to the race and his low-key campaign.

Hagan is essentially tied with Grant, Harris and Tillis, down 2 percentage points, which is within the plus-or-minus 3.7 percent margin of error in the general election polling.