As I mentioned in a previous post, North Carolina isn’t the GOP’s unicorn…yet. A poll from High Point University found that Hagan is leading Tillis by only 2 points amongst likely voters, which is a statistical dead heat:
“This U.S. Senate race is very close, and one reason for that is the generally negative outlook North Carolina’s voters have right now,” said Dr. Martin Kifer, assistant professor of political science and the director of the HPU Poll. “This electoral environment will make it more difficult for either candidate to open up a wide lead, and the competitiveness of the race will compound this tendency by continuing to attract extremely high levels of outside spending and negative campaigning.”
Women remain a critical bloc of voters keeping Hagan in the lead; she has an overall 19-point advantage over Tillis. Single women are also breaking for Hagan by over 40 points. Also, Sen. Hagan’s garners a healthy share of white voters in North Carolina, which–coupled with women–virtually cancel out Tillis’ advantage with men. In Kentucky, it’s the reason why Sen. McConnell is in the lead since women voters there are equally split between McConnell and his Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes.
American Insights has Hagan leading with men, but Elon University’s poll showed Tillis winning male voters.
On the negative ad front, Senate Majority PAC hit Tillis over welfare state spending and education.
But, another group called Carolina Rising released this ad touting Tillis’ efforts to pass a failed bill on autism coverage for health insurance. It passed the State House last year, but died in the Senate.
Sen. Rand Paul plans to go to North Carolina next week to stump for Tillis, while former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush stopped by this week . As Kay Hagan’s Week Of Action across college campuses in the state begins to wind down, so does the North Carolina chapter of Americans For Prosperity weeklong “Call Out Kay” event, which featured our colleague Guy Benson. The 1,000-mile event is suppose to remind voters that Sen. Hagan “for far too long Kay Hagan has gotten a pass for her stubborn support for ObamaCare, the EPA’s power grab, and higher taxes and wasteful Washington spending.”
Benson noted “North Carolina is the only one where it looks like the Democratic incumbent has a modest lead.” Yet, the race isn’t over. “There’s a lot of time between now and Nov. 4. It’s up to you guys to decide how to hold (Hagan) accountable,” added Benson.
Yet, while Tillis campaigns, is he concerned about student turnout? Time magazine published this piece yesterday, where the state’s new voting laws may have energized more left-leaning voters:
A sweeping 2013 state voting law that will be in place for the first time during a statewide election, eliminating same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting, and shortening the early voting window by ten days, all changes that could disproportionately impact young people.
“We’re worried,” says Rachel Clay, 21, a student at ASU. “But, there’s a big pushback from grassroots organizations on campus to get students engaged and address misinformation.” Clay is helping to organize a march to the polls during the early voting period, and plans to vote on the first day the polls open—Oct. 23.
In the meantime, the issue of disenfranchisement has become an election issue in the close federal senate contest. Incumbent Democratic Senator Kay Hagan asked the federal government to investigate the new voting law last year, and has created a list-building website encouraging people to vent their frustration about the new law. Her campaign has criticized the Republican nominee Thom Tillis for working to pass the new voting law as speaker of the state House. Tillis defends his vote for the new law as part of an effort to restore confidence in the voting system.
“The mistake the extremists in state legislature made is that their actions have energized people,” says Rev. William Barber president of the North Carolina Chapter of the NAACP and leader of a statewide movement to galvanize voters.
It may take until after the election to find out if this enthusiasm will offset the decline in voter participation because voting will be less convenient this time around. “I’m not a political scientist,” says Anita Earls, the Executive Director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, “but I think we’ll see a jump in students voting this year because of their frustration that someone is trying to take their vote.”
I think this is an over-enthusiastic prognostication.