With Race A Dead Heat, Pro-Hagan Ad Ties Tillis To Trayvon Martin Shooting

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Oct 27, 2014 2:15 PM
With Race A Dead Heat, Pro-Hagan Ad Ties Tillis To Trayvon Martin Shooting

This post has been updated.

Public Policy Polling had Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan with a 3-point lead last week, although it was a D+7 poll. Now, Marist has a D+5 poll showing the race is tied at 43 percent between Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis. Earlier this month, Marist had Hagan up 4 points over Tillis.

Tillis had told Townhall –with a great degree of confidence–that his team saw the polls moving in his direction, even with pollsters that had him trailing Hagan in previous surveys.

On top issues, Tillis leads Hagan on job creation 45/41, action against ISIS 63/23, and the deficit 74/10. Hagan leads Tillis on entitlement programs 47/30, “breaking gridlock in Washington 64/31, and health care 58/37.

In all, this is a red meat election for the Democratic and GOP bases–and the polling shows that too; Hagan and Tillis are garnering almost an equal share of the GOP and Democratic vote amongst North Carolina voters. Hagan has 87 percent of support among Democratic voters, with Tillis locking up 89 percent of Republicans. Now, it comes down to who can better drive their voters to the polls

One silver lining for the Hagan camp regarding this question is how Marist gauged the level of intensity amongst Hagan and Tillis supporters. Amongst Tillis and Hagan supporters who claim to be strongly support their respective candidates; Hagan leads 53/44. So, there’s a little bit of an intensity gap there.

Nevertheless, some campaign posts have become outright nasty as we approach Election Day. The Senate Majority PAC released this radio ad slamming Tillis for opposing equal pay, backing North Carolina’s new voting laws, and his support for Stand Your Ground Laws “that caused the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.” So, Thom Tillis is complicit in the 2012 death of Floridian teen Trayvon Martin? 

Not only is the ad absurd, it's a gratuitous rehash of something that was already politicized to death by the MSNBC crowd.  Also, how is this an issue in the 2014 North Carolina race? 

On the Republican side, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has this ad, which is more grounded in reality, showing how Hagan virtually votes with the president all the time; a point of attack she lobbed against then-Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole back in 2008, along with not doing anything in the Senate.

In 2014, Hagan voted with President Obama 99 percent of the time; the only time she voted against him was over a judge in Pennsylvania.

Obama currently has a 37 percent approval rating in the Tar Heel State.

Religious conservatives at FRCAction also have released ads, like this one slamming Hagan for supporting taxpayer-funded abortion.

Faith-driven voters represent one-third of the North Carolina electorate, but they are voters that are hard to gauge in polling. Hagan registers badly with this bloc, but Tillis has shown to underperform with this key group of conservatives as well. Nevertheless, Reuters says they will turn out for the 2014 midterms:

Reuters/Ipsos polling data shows evangelicals are more enthusiastic than the general population about the midterms.

The religious right's influence may be much reduced since the days of Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell's alliances with Republican presidents.

But Christian conservatives will probably vote in greater numbers on Nov. 4 than others, giving them an outsized say in who runs Congress. Forty-nine percent of evangelicals say they have a great deal of interest or quite a bit of interest in news about the elections, compared to 38 percent of non-evangelicals.

The Supreme Court's decision earlier this month to allow gay marriages by rejecting appeals from five states seeking to ban them was a landmark in longrunning culture wars, but it passed without much fuss on midterm campaign trails.

"The candidates, certainly the Democratic candidates, are not talking about these issues and in most cases the Republican candidates aren't talking about these issues, so we are going to talk about them," said veteran conservative activist Ralph Reed.

His Faith and Freedom Coalition has launched what Reed said is its "most muscular" turnout operation yet. It includes making 10 million phone calls to potential voters and an aggressive ad campaign of online videos.

The idea is to ensure enough evangelical turnout to swing Senate races in states such as Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Iowa, Colorado, North Carolina and Kentucky, where polls show the average gap between the top candidates is in the low single digits. Republicans need a net gain of six seats to win the Senate.

Yet, as time begins to run out, prominent figures on both sides are descending into North Carolina. Last week, Rep. Paul Ryan stopped by to lend words of support for Tillis, while Hillary Clinton stumped for Hagan–shoring up women voters–this past weekend. Mitt Romney is expected to campaign for Tillis later this week.

This is shaping up to be a nail-biter race, but overall; Republicans across the country are in good shape to win next week.

Editor's note: The original post reported that the latest Marist Poll was D+11, but it's really D+5.  We have made the appropriate corrections and apologize for the error.