New polls show Hagan widening lead

Posted September 15, 2014

Hagan, Tillis engage in first debate

— Two polls released Monday show Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan opening up a lead over Republican challenger Thom Tillis.

Raleigh polling firm American Insights, which has Republican ties, had Hagan with a 9 percentage point lead among likely voters.

The polls are the latest in a string showing Hagan gaining ground in the campaign.

Of likely voters surveyed by American Insights, 43 percent said they would back Hagan, 34 percent said they backed Tillis, the current state House speaker, and 5 percent backed Libertarian Sean Haugh.

"The race has unmistakably shifted towards Sen. Hagan in recent days," said Pearce Godwin, insights director for American Insights, which has Republican ties. "This poll is a continuation and affirmation of the recent trend in her direction. But there is still a lot of time left on the clock, and I would not be surprised if this volatile race shifts back to a jump ball between now and November."

Although the near double-digit lead for Hagan is eye-catching, it's worth noting that the result is still just within the margin or error with regard to likely voters. While the American Insights results confirm a trend seen in other polls, it is still something of an outlier, giving Hagan more of a lead over Tillis than those other polls have shown.

For example, and An Elon University Poll released this morning gave Hagan a 4-point lead, which is much more in line with other recent polls.

The American Insights poll is also the first recent public survey showing Hagan having the edge among male voters.

"We also show her narrowly winning the independent vote, by 1 (percentage point). Most other polls have shown Tillis with an advantage among these groups," Godwin said of men and unaffiliated voters. "However, the most recent surveys have shown his lead among men and independents narrowing, suggesting that this is a real trend at this moment in the race."

The Elon poll gives Tillis a 50 to 38 percent advantage among male voters, while Hagan leads 52 to 33 percent among female voters.

“National polls have suggested the gender gap in voting is narrowing,” Jason Husser, assistant director of the Elon University Poll, said in a statement. “That isn’t the case in North Carolina."

Overall, the Elon poll gives Hagan a 45 to 41 percent margin over Tillis. Five percent of those surveyed remain undecided, while 9 percent favor another candidate – Haugh wasn't mentioned by name in the poll. Hagan's lead is just outside the margin of error among likely voters.

A majority of likely voters dislike the job Hagan has done in Washington, D.C., over the last six years, according to to the poll, but even fewer like the way the General Assembly has operated under Tillis' leadership.

American Insights asked several other questions which may or may not give some insight into the race:

  • 34 percent of registered voters and 39 percent of likely voters in the survey said they watched the Sept. 3 debate between Hagan and Tillis. Those are suspiciously high numbers, particularly given the low ratings that debates typically get. 

    "I am skeptical that more than a third of voters tuned in to the first debate, right after Labor Day," Godwin said. "Nearly half of young likely voters and those in the Charlotte area told us they’d seen it, which I find suspect."

    He said that respondents may be succumbing to a "social desirability bias" – known that watching a debate is the civic-minded thing to do and feeling pressure to answer yes – or they may have counted having seen clips of the debate on the news as having watched it.
  • 44 percent of likely voters said they learned something about the candidates they didn't know by watching the debate. By a 54 percent to 33 percent margin said Hagan had performed better in the encounter.
  • Nearly 80 percent of likely voters said they had seen television ads related to the U.S. Senate race, although less than a third said the ads had swayed their votes.

The Elon poll also found that 54 percent of likely voters disapprove of President Barack Obama's job performance, compared with 38 percent approval. Gov. Pat McCrory, meanwhile, has a 43 percent approval rate and 44 percent disapproval.


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  • Sam Nada Sep 19, 2014
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    Great. That's easy. The stock market and S&P500 hit record highs today. Just check the stock market, unemployment rates nationally, and number of soldiers deployed abroad, since Obama was first elected, and then tell us the country is worse off. If NC is suffering it's due to the GOP taking over. But based on the Hagan/Tillis poll, and the latest ratings of the GOP in Congress, it looks like the voters realize that.

  • david46 Sep 18, 2014

    Why is it that previously thru 2 democratic administrations education and teacher salaries never seemed to be an issue, however as soon as republicans came into office it becomes a big problem that the republicans actually addressed and were able the give raises and that makes them the bad guys.

  • theysayirock Sep 18, 2014

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    Thank you!

  • Gary_too Sep 18, 2014

    Hows long is WRAL going to leave this piece of bird cage liner up, Its got to be a week old already.

  • recontwice Sep 18, 2014

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    Just to let you in on common knowledge==the south is not gonna rise again!!

  • Stacie Hagwood Sep 18, 2014
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    The current Republican leaders just don't get it: it isn't about being FOR Hagan as much as it is a backlash for how the current legislature is destroying our teachers and our state.

  • veryfrustrated1 Sep 18, 2014

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    How ridiculous to be so prejudicially judgmental! Aren't lefties supposed to be against discrimination? The only thing REALLY matters is the content of the legislation! If you or I wrote it and it is actually good for the people of NC, no one should care what our political affiliation is!

  • prn13norm Sep 18, 2014

    If you are better off now than before Obama and Hagan was elected then you should vote for her (them). If not Tillis can make a difference in Washington and the course of our Nation!

  • Brenda Lawrence Sep 17, 2014
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    Great!! But as long as we have the same people in Congress, we will keep getting the same results.

  • boysmom Sep 17, 2014

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    I was a WCPSS Teacher Assistant from 2008-2012...the larger issue than classroom size is lack of discipline in the home and then schools being to PC to deal with it at the school level.