Democratic Senator Kay Hagan Trails All Opponents In North Carolina

Welcome to North Carlina sign

One of the states key to Republican hopes of retaking the Senate in November is North Carolina, where Kay Hagan, who defeated Elizabeth Dole in one of the most closely watched races of 2008. As with states such as Arkansas, Louisiana, South Dakota, and West Virginia, the Tarheel State is one that Mitt Romney won in the 2012 election and which is currently represented by a Democratic Senator. In past polling, Hagan has led most of her opponents albeit by rather slim margins. However, a new SurveyUSA poll shows the incumbent trailing all of her potential GOP opponents:

North Carolina Democratic Incumbent Senator Kay Hagan will face a Republican challenger on Election Day 11/04/14. It will be one of 2 Republicans who emerge from a 05/06/14 Republican Primary and 07/15/14 Republican Runoff. The problem for Hagan is, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for Time Warner Cable News North Carolina, no matter which of 5 Republicans she goes up against, she’s in trouble: While it’s premature for Republicans to count their chickens, it’s not too soon for Democrats nationwide to be worried, since a Hagan defeat would flip a seat in the United States Senate from Democratic hands to Republican hands, and could help Republicans take control of the US Senate in the next Congress. (Republicans already control the US House of Representatives.)


7 months till voting begins, we caution that much can change, but today, SurveyUSA finds that incumbent Democrat Hagan does not defeat any Republican challenger. 1,489 likely NC general election voters interviewed. There are some pollster semantics involved here, since Hagan trails by as few as 1 and no more than 4 points, which means that the Republican advantage may or may not be statistically significant. So we must be cautious not to say that in every case Hagan “trails.” However, in no case does Hagan lead. Here we go:

  • Tillis edges Hagan 46% to 45% today.
  • Brannon edges Hagan 47% to 45% today.
  • Harris edges Hagan 47% to 43% today.
  • Ted Alexander, who gets just 6% in the Republican primary, edges Hagan 46% to 44%.
  • Heather Grant, who gets just 6% in the Republican primary, edges Hagan 46% to 44%.
  • In no hypothetical head-to-head matchup does Hagan get more than 45% of the vote.

All of these numbers are, obviously, within the margin of error but they are nonetheless notable both because of the fact that Hagan isn’t out polling any of her potential opponents and because of the fact that she isn’t rising above 45% in those polls. That’s not good news for any incumbent even taking into account the fact that were still seven months away from Election Day. There’s much that will occur between now and then, of course, but Hagan is clearly going to have her job cut out for her here.

As for who might be running against Hagan, that is still up in the air:

Thom Tillis, Greg Brannon and Mark Harris are the only 3 candidates in double-digits, Tillis at 23%, Brannon at 15%, Harris at 11%. Others trail. None today appear likely to get to the 40% threshold, needed to avoid a runoff. Tillis’ support is male, older, conservative, educated, affluent and spread evenly throughout the state. Brannon’s support is made up disproportionately of unaffiliated voters, heavily concentrated in Southern and Coastal NC. Harris’ support is younger and less educated. 1 in 3 likely NC Republican Primary voters remain undecided. 433 likely Republican Primary voters were interviewed.

The primary will be held on May 6th. If none of the candidates manage to get to 40% of the vote on that day, then the top two candidates will face each other in a runoff election that will be held on July 15th.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2014, Congress, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    I hate to break it to you, Doug, but the Palmetto State is South Carolina. North Carolina is the Tarheel State.

  2. mantis says:

    Wait until North Carolinians get to know the GOP candidate better. I wonder how Greg “food stamps are slavery, Obamacare is part of the Agenda 21 UN conspiracy, vaccinations are a plot to kill you” Brannon will do then, should he secure the nomination from the psychotic GOP base.

  3. al-Ameda says:

    Hey, it’s North Carolina, not as “nutty” as South Carolina, but expectations (with the exception of college basketball) are low.

  4. @Dave Schuler:

    Gah. I need to fix that one

  5. Tillman says:

    @Dave Schuler: @Doug Mataconis: It’s cool. Out-of-state friends would screw up the differences themselves. I always remind them that South Carolina is where the good fireworks are legal.

  6. stonetools says:

    In 2010, Harry Reid was losing to every Republican candidate-till he won. We’ve got a lot of time to go, and Republican candidates will soon have to be actually explaining themselves in front of microphones for the things they say in the primary.

  7. Dave Schuler says:


    Two of my oldest, dearest friends live in North Carolina. Every year at Christmas they send me a southern Care package: good corn meal, good country ham, usually some other local product.

  8. Neil Hudelson says:

    Eek, that’s bad. And you can discount another couple of percentage points of support for Hagan when you factor in how many voters won’t be able to vote thanks to the state’s draconian laws.

  9. Tyrell says:

    @Neil Hudelson: But Democrats still outnumber Republicans in NC by a wide margin. They have since the 1860’s. NC, as most Southern states, still has a strong Southern wing of the Democratic party. A Southern Democrat will beat any Republican. Around here Republicans are few and far between. I can’ t remember the last time a Republican won a local election. Probably back when it was the Wig Party, which I hear may actually be making a comback: made up of sensible, moderate Republicans.
    “All the way with LBJ!” “HH Humphrey For President” “Landslide Lyndon !!”
    “…ask what you can do for your country” (Kennedy)

  10. Tillman says:

    @Tyrell: That’s local elections. State and federal elections go Republican. State is really a recent occurrence since McCrory succeeded a line of Democratic governors going back twenty years to Hunt.

    The Democrats here are definitely of the “Blue Dog” variety, to coin a House category.

    Hagan’s poll numbers aren’t terribly surprising. Since last year, outside groups like Crossroads and Americans for Prosperity have been saturating the network channels with anti-Hagan ads for her Obamacare support among other issues. While there have been other commercials in favor, they’ve been outnumbered for quite some time.

  11. Rick Almeida says:


    But Democrats still outnumber Republicans in NC by a wide margin.

    Nope. According to Gallup, Rs (and leaners) outnumber Ds and leaners slightly, 41.9% to 41.3%

  12. Tyrell says:

    @Rick Almeida: I was looking at the voter registration numbers.