With 97 percent of the precincts in, AP has called the North Carolina Senate race for Thom Tillis.
When it came to whether the “sins of Raleigh” or the sins of Washington were greater, North Carolina voters chose the latter. By a margin of 2 percentage points, or 48,511 votes, Republican challenger Thom Tillis prevailed over incumbent Democratic Senator Kay Hagan 49/47.
In a state that broke for Romney in 2012–and one that views him unfavorably– the race was tight, with Hagan leading Tillis by a slim 4-point margin for most of the summer.
One thing that did hurt Hagan was her voting record with Obama; a point that the Tillis campaign hammered her on pervasively. She voted with the president 96 percent of the time, which was ironic given that she used then Sen. Elizabeth Dole’s 92 percent voting record with Bush as a reason to vote her out back in 2008.
Yet, Hagan came back at Tillis for his cuts to education, which national Democrats also highlighted in a deluge of ads against him. Additionally, the Hagan camp hit Tillis on his opposition to equal pay (a typical liberal talking point), abortion rights, and walking a waffled line on ISIS.
Then again, as ISIS, Ebola, and foreign policy became more prominent on the campaign trail–issues where Republicans are more trusted in handling than Democrats–the momentum began to shift.
In early October, a Marist poll had Hagan holding her 4-point lead. By the end of the month, Tillis had erased that lead.
One thing that will be interesting to see is if Hagan’s alleged stimulus controversy caused some undecided and independent North Carolina voters to break for Tillis. Also, it seems that the Tillis campaign felt that Hagan's admission that she skipped an Armed Services hearing to attend a fundraiser was the turning point in this election.
Tillis campaign tells me the major turning point in the race was Senator Hagan's admission of missing armed services cmt mtg for fundraiser— Joe Bruno (@JoeBrunoFOX46) November 5, 2014
As Tillis told Townhall, he didn’t expect to be in the lead during the summer months, where he was overseeing a session of the state legislature. He also felt that resigning from being Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, his soon-to-be former job, would not have had an impact concerning him taking a lead in the polls. He felt he had a job to do in Raleigh–and he had to honor the promises he made when campaigning to reclaim the North Carolina state legislature.
He was confident that the momentum was on his side–and he was right.
One thing that got the crowd going at the Raleigh Victory Center just before Election Day was NC GOP’s vice chairwoman Carolyn Justice, who said she smelled “victory in the air.”
Her instincts proved to be correct.
Exit question: Immigration groups began to target Hagan before Election Day, slamming her for taking what they consider to be anti-immmigrant stances. How could that have impacted Hispanic turnout? Did this impact Democratic turnout?
Democratic turnout was at its lowest levels since 1984 tonight.