For North Carolina Voters, It's A Choice Between The 'Sins Of Raleigh' Or Washington

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Oct 30, 2014 3:45 PM
For North Carolina Voters, It's A Choice Between The 'Sins Of Raleigh' Or Washington

The latest Elon University poll shows what most have been saying about the U.S. Senate Race in North Carolina; it’s very close. Nonetheless, Elon found that 44.7 percent of voters are breaking for Sen. Kay Hagan, while 40.7 percent are going for Tillis. The sample size consisted of 1084 residents of which 996 were registered to vote. Out of 996, 687 identified themselves as likely voters. There was a D+5 skew in the sample for those who identified their political affiliation.

Additionally, it's the same story with Obama, the state legislature, and North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory; no one really thinks they’re doing a good job. It also suggests that despite millions of dollars being poured into the state, the needle hasn’t moved all that much. Then again, the latest Marist poll shows Tillis has closed his 4-point deficit he had with Hagan in the polls.

Lastly, Roll Call’s Stuart Rothenberg, who labeled this race as leaning towards the Democrats, said this race is a pure toss up:

Voters in the Tar Heel State don’t seem to like Hagan or GOP challenger Thom Tillis, but one of them will win on Nov. 4. Hagan’s lead seems to have all but vanished, and Republicans who a month or two ago were quite pessimistic about the race have grown cautiously optimistic. This race now looks too close to call.

As a result, both sides have prominent national figures heading down to stump for them. Bill Clinton will be in Raleigh tomorrow, while Gov. Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Sen. John McCain have campaigned for Tillis.

Both sides have a healthy-and almost equal–amount of support amongst their respective bases. It’s whether who can maximize turnout that will decide the victor next week. Also, which narrative resonated more; the “sins of Raleigh” or the fiasco in Washington (via RCP):

Republicans have even used Hagan’s own words from 2008 against her in 2014. An ad sponsored by the National Republican Senatorial Committee features a clip of Hagan campaigning against Dole: “Voting 92 percent of the time with the president, whether you support him or not, doesn't work here in North Carolina.”

But nearly each time these charges are lobbed at Hagan, she punches back with an attack on Tillis’ record in the state legislature, particularly the recent budget that resulted in cuts to education funding and teacher layoffs.

For his part, Tillis welcomes the legislature vs. Obama/Democrats paradigm. “If the senator is referring to historic tax cuts, historic reductions on unemployment, historic reductions on burdensome regulations, the things that I’ve done as speaker of the House, I agree -- that’s exactly what we’re running on,” he told RCP.

Tillis argued that the state’s education budget has increased since 2011, and pointed to fact-checkers as validation. (Politifact rated Hagan’s claim that he cut $500 million in education half-true.)

In these final days, the emphasis is on the ground game. Democrats credit the president’s campaign organization for having a built the infrastructure to locate and activate volunteers. But the party notes that it has expanded beyond that over the past two years, with 40 offices across the state and a volunteer base of over 10,000 people. Democratic operatives here say they have seen increases in early voting. “It’s an incredibly high-stakes election for North Carolina because there could not be a clearer contrast between the two candidates,” says Ben Ray, a spokesman for the coordinated effort. “Voters are confronted with a values statement.”

Making that values statement is a pricey undertaking. This contest could become the most expensive in Senate race in history, with the two sides spending an estimated $100 million combined. Not surprisingly, voters here are exhausted by wall-to-wall campaign ads, most of them negative.

Americans for Prosperity’s North Carolina chapter has also been aggressive in GOTV efforts. Their deputy state director, Donald Bryson, said that the race will come down to this question: “When you sit down and think about it and try to figure it out, are the good policies that are affecting my life coming out of D.C. or are they coming out of [the] state house in Raleigh?”

Also, immigration groups have fired off shots inside the ship, criticizing Hagan for her stances on immigration; she called on Obama to avoid halting deportations this past summer via executive order and was one of five Democrats who joined Republicans voting to kill the DREAM ACT’s advance in the Senate back in 2010. If immigration becomes an issue in the waning days of the 2014 cycle, it will surely play into Republican hands, as it’s a topic that hasn’t played well with Democrats.

Regardless, this is shaping up to be a very exciting election night.

On a final note, I’ll leave you with this video from James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas showing North Carolina campaign workers doing nothing to stop a non-citizen from voting in next week’s elections. It dovetails off a Washington Post article that discussed the possible impact of non-citizens voting in American elections.

I’m not saying voter fraud will occur, but it’s something to ponder–even if Think Progress doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal.