WRAL News poll: GOP runoff likely in Senate race

Posted March 20, 2014

House Speaker Thom Tillis

— Although House Speaker Thom Tillis has a clear lead in the U.S. Senate race Republican primary, he likely will face a runoff, according to a WRAL News poll released Thursday.

SurveyUSA polled 405 likely Republican primary voters in North Carolina Monday through Wednesday and found that Tillis also has the best favorability rating with voters among the eight Senate candidates. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Thirty-four percent of voters surveyed said they have a favorable opinion of Tillis, compared with 11 percent who have an unfavorable opinion of him, for a margin of plus-23, according to the poll. Cary Dr. Greg Brannon is second with a plus-16 (27 percent favorable vs. 11 percent unfavorable), followed by Rev. Mark Harris of Charlotte at plus-14 (23 percent favorable vs. 9 percent unfavorable).

Yet, Harris would finish fifth in the primary if it were held now, according to the poll.

Tillis now claims 28 percent of the vote, followed by Brannon at 15 percent and Wilkesboro nurse Heather Grant at 11 percent. Harris polled at 6 percent among likely primary voters, behind former Shelby mayor Ted Alexander, who had 7 percent.

A candidate needs 40 percent of the vote in the primary to avoid a runoff, meaning Tillis needs to win the majority of the 23 percent of likely voters who said they are still undecided in the race.

The winner of the May 6 primary or subsequent runoff faces Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in November.

Tillis' strongest support is among older voters, garnering 40 percent among those 50 and older. Meanwhile, Grant was favored among voters ages 18 to 34, winning 17 percent of the vote in that group.

In addition to outdueling Harris for support in their shared home base of Charlotte (26 to 11 percent), Tillis also easily beats Brannon in the Triangle (32 to 12 percent). Brannon leads in eastern North Carolina, while Tillis also is tops in the Triad, according to the poll.


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  • Grand Union Mar 24, 2014

    So Tillis, if what College you went to doesn't matter, why did you lie about which college you went to?
    And thanks for insulting all those you made the effort and got into the top colleges in the States system......rather than the ones with 100% entry and mostly on-line classes.

  • santoinetteberger Mar 22, 2014

    This is a poll of only 405 "likely to vote Republicans". Don't forget about the MANY "unaffiliated voters" , such as myself, who will be voting in the primary election. I am one LIBERTY minded registered Unaffiliated voter who will be voting for Dr. Greg Brannon.

  • Mar 21, 2014

    Want to know who the winner is right now? Just look to see who Duke is spending all their money on to "solve" their environmental mess. Easy peasy.

  • NO_COMMENT11235813 Mar 21, 2014

    Tillis , is the perfect politician. He is absent for important votes, and he gives political paybacks to his supporters. I don't know why we need a runoff? Brannon can't be trusted to tell the whole story , and really only wants the job to pay off his lawsuit loss. Harris is too religious.

  • goldenosprey Mar 21, 2014

    From the article: "Tillis' strongest support is among older voters, garnering 40 percent among those 50 and older."

    Since that demo is about 90 percent of all republican voters I guess the drama is exaggerated.

  • Mar 21, 2014

    Wouldn't it just be easier to reinstate duels? It would be the PERFECT way to determine the best candidate. Only the strong survive, and of course you've got the perfect NRA spokesperson coming out the backside of this....

  • notexactly Mar 21, 2014

    what do the toll roads have to do with anything about tillis? So you would not vote for someone just because of a toll road?? That's it? I think the toll road thing started way before tillis. I know sleesly was wanting to toll I95, then bev. Most toll roads here would be able to be bypassed by the locals anyway. I don't have a problem with people from out of state paying for our roads when they use them. I would hate to see it get as bad as the northern states, but We just go around them here.

  • Charlie Watkins Mar 21, 2014
    user avatar

    I think Tillis is the only Republican who even has a chance at defeating Kay Hagan. Brannon and Harris seem to be extreme right-wingers and many are getting tired of the hateful rhetoric.

  • Bunghole Stench Mar 20, 2014

    Is there a conservative running in this race?

  • tsquaring Mar 20, 2014

    No way I'm voting for Tillis. I can't stand toll roads either.