November 20, 2019/Press

Another Nonpartisan Analyst Rates NC Senate Race as a “Toss Up”

Raleigh – New nonpartisan analysis from Politico rates the North Carolina Senate race a “Toss Up,” noting that Tillis is “facing a self-funding primary challenger” and is rushing to bearhug President Trump “after getting crosswise with the president over Trump’s emergency declaration to build a wall along the southern border” which raided more than $80 million in funding from North Carolina military bases.

This is now the third analyst to rate the NC Senate race as a “Toss Up”:

  • Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball moved the race from “Lean Republican” to “Toss Up” because Tillis’ “personal favorability numbers are not good,” noting that Tillis is “sweating” his primary with Garland Tucker that’s “pushing him to embrace Trump strongly.”
  • Inside Elections moved the race to “Toss Up” because of Tillis’ “image problem” with voters of all political backgrounds.

The nonpartisan elections analysts at Cook Political also moved the race in Democrats’ direction because of Senator Tillis’ “self-inflicted wounds,” noting that “voters of all ideological stripes simply don’t trust Tillis.

Earlier this week, a Politico story detailed the “unique position” facing Tillis, who’s fighting “the stiffest GOP primary campaign” of any Senator up in 2020, a situation that “could damage his general election chances.” While Tillis races to the right, he’s turning off independent suburban voters – a “double whammy” that’s a potential “kiss of death” for Tillis, according to one operative.

Politico: Trump’s new best friend in North Carolina
By Burgess Everett
November 18, 2019

Key Points:

  • Sen. Thom Tillis began the Trump era by negotiating with Democrats on immigration and co-authoring legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller. He even briefly opposed President Donald Trump’s national emergency to build a border wall.
  • But now the North Carolina Republican’s independent streak is fading. He’s deploying the president as a shield against a conservative primary challenger and he’s hugging Trump tightly.
  • It’s a shrewd political strategy amid a well-funded primary challenge from Garland Tucker, a conservative businessman who paints Tillis as an enemy of the Trump agenda. But Tillis’ role as Trump’s new best friend threatens to undermine his profile as a diligent, unpredictable senator — and could damage his general election chances.
  • “He is not really in control of how he’s defined,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster. “This double whammy of being seen as not different enough from Trump among suburbanites and not supportive enough among rural conservatives could end up being the kiss of death.”
  • North Carolina could easily be the tipping point for the GOP’s 53-seat majority.