Tag Archives: Mark Harris

Two House Races Still Not Decided

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 6, 2018 — Two House races are still not finalized, with one possibly headed for a new election. In California, action is still not complete now almost a month after Election Day. Democrat T.J. Cox leads Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford/Bakersfield) by 843 votes in the 21st District with an undetermined number of ballots remaining to be counted. It does appear that Cox will be declared the winner, but the election officials actually doing finalizing the race still have not done so.

In North Carolina, the state Board of Elections has blocked certifying Republican Mark Harris’ victory over Democratic businessman Dan McCready in the state’s open 9th District. The seat went to open status after the North Carolina primary in May when Harris, formerly a Baptist pastor, upset Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) in the Republican primary.

Ironically, a practice referred to as “ballot harvesting” appears to be at the heart of the California political overtime races and this one suspended result in North Carolina. Ballot harvesting is the act of an individual gathering absentee ballots from voters, bundling them together, and turning them over to election officers for counting purposes. In California, ballot harvesting is now legal. In North Carolina, it is not.

In the Golden State, the Valadao district is the last to turn. In five other seats, all Republican held, the GOP candidate led through Election Day and mail counting, only to see the tables turn when provisional ballots were added. Statewide, almost 2 million votes were in this category, so an average of approximately 35,000 such votes were present in most congressional districts.

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NC-9: Certification Problems

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina Republican Mark Harris

Nov. 30, 2018 — The North Carolina Board of Elections has failed to certify Republican Mark Harris’ victory in the open 9th Congressional District, action that may initiate a long legal battle.

Board Vice Chairman Joshua Malcolm (D) objected to certifying Harris’ 905-vote victory over businessman Dan McCready (D) from 282,717 total votes cast. The seat was open after Harris, a Baptist former pastor and ex-US Senate and congressional candidate, defeated Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) in the May Republican primary.

Malcolm cited “irregularities” in Republican Bladen County, an entity that Harris carried by 1,557 votes, obviously more than his district-wide margin, as his reasoning to the other board members as to why the result should be at least temporarily suspended.

The 9th District begins in Mecklenburg County and then travels down the South Carolina border to the Fayetteville area. It includes five complete counties and parts of three others including Mecklenburg and Bladen. Harris carried only Union County and Bladen’s 9th District section, but his margins were large enough in these two places to overcome McCready’s advantage in the other six local entities.

The North Carolina Board of Elections (BoE) is a nine-member panel that has been at the center of controversy between Gov. Roy Cooper (D) and the Republican legislature. After Cooper defeated then-Gov. Pat McCrory (R), the legislators passed a series of bills that limited some of the governor’s power. One of the measures involved changing how the Board of Elections’ membership was appointed.

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More House Calls

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 13, 2018 — While two key Senate races in Florida and Arizona as well as the Georgia governor’s campaign remain languishing in a situation rife with uncounted votes and complaints about election officials, progress is being made with outstanding House races.

California Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (CA-480

Two of the nine congressional races were called over the weekend, one for each party. Looking at the trends in the remaining seven, it appears the Democrats’ final conversion number may now approach 40.

In California, 15-term Rep. Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) has gone down to defeat at the hands of businessman Harley Rouda (D). Though thousands of votes remain to be counted, a projection has been made in Rouda’s favor. Three more California races still remain uncalled, however, and a final result could still consume days if not weeks.

Rep. Rohrabacher fell into trouble in what should be a strong Republican district with stories about how the congressman was making favorable statements toward Russian president Vladimir Putin and being close to some Russian officials. The FBI warned Rohrabacher that the Kremlin had even assigned him a code name. Republicans, concerned about his actions, curtailed his role as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats.

Rohrabacher signaled his political trouble when he scored only 30.3 percent of the vote in the state’s jungle primary, even though he finished first in a pool of 16 candidates. Rouda, placing second by just 125 votes, which allowed him to advance into the general election, was able to overwhelm the congressman in campaign funding. The Democrat’s campaign spent over $7 million, including $2 million from his personal finances, as compared to about $2.5 million for Rohrabacher.

Turning to North Carolina, Baptist former pastor Mark Harris (R) has successfully held the open 9th District Republican seat, as he defeated businessman Dan McCready (D). Harris has been projected to win with an approximately 2,000-vote margin (49.4 – 48.8 percent), and overcame a better than 1:2 ratio in campaign spending.

It appears McCready will spend close to, or over, $5 million in his losing effort as compared to Harris spending in the $2 million range. In the Republican primary, Harris unseated three-term Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte), but he managed to hold what became a competitive seat in the general election.

The 9th District begins in the Charlotte metropolitan area and then stretches along the South Carolina border all the way to the Fayetteville suburbs. McCready, a business owner, was one of the Democratic candidates saying he would not support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker, even going so far as to making the statement in his campaign ads.

The remaining uncalled offices are:

CA-10 (Rep. Jeff Denham (R) now trailing Democratic venture capitalist Josh Harder)
CA-39 (former Assemblywoman Young Kim (R) leading retired Naval officer and lottery winner Gil Cisneros (D)
CA-45 (Rep. Mimi Walters (R) leading Democratic law professor Katie Porter)
GA-7 (Rep. Rob Woodall (R) leading former state legislative committee staff director Caroyln Bourdeaux (D)
ME-2 (Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) vs. Democratic state Rep. Jared Golden – see NOTE below)
NJ-3 (Rep. Tom MacArthur (R) trailing former National Security Council official Andy Kim (D)
UT-4 (Rep. Mia Love (R) trailing Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams)

All of these races have a greater number of outstanding and uncounted ballots than the current margins, and thus each could still turnaround.

NOTE: In the Maine district, it appears that Rep. Poliquin will likely finish ahead of Golden but will not attain majority support. In previous years, this would have elected Poliquin, as it would in almost every other state, but Maine’s new ranked voting instant run-off system will likely flip the result to Golden. Therefore, we can expect continued counting and much legal wrangling to occur until this final result is recorded.

The Turnout Report:
Signs of a “Blue Wave”?

By Jim Ellis

May 10, 2018
— Looking at the voting patterns for Tuesday’s primaries in the four states holding elections, we see little evidence of the reported “blue wave” often discussed in media analyst reports — meaning a surge in Democratic Party voter turnout — but there is also sparse information to determine specific participation trends in many of the noted places.

state-of-ohio-mapOhio has the most complete data to compare totals for midterm elections dating back to 2006. On Tuesday, 1,506,777 people voted in the two major party primary elections, with just about 55 percent recorded in the Republican gubernatorial contest. The current grand total was the second largest participation figure in the four midterms since 2006, inclusive. The 1.506 million aggregate total was second only to the 2006 turnout that saw 1.626 million Ohioans voting. This year, both parties featured open gubernatorial primaries, each with a clear leader heading into Election Day.

In all four of the tested Ohio midterms, more people voted in the Republican primary. The 54.9 percent participation factor when measuring the two parties against each other on Tuesday night was the second highest of the sampled four. Only the Republicans’ 56.0 percent participation rate in 2014 was stronger. To put the current rate in perspective, the GOP low occurred in 2006 when 50.8 percent of primary voters cast a Republican ballot. In the succeeding general election, Democrat Ted Strickland would win the governor’s campaign, making the result consistent with the higher Democratic primary participation rate.

In the Buckeye State House races, eight of the 16 districts featured primary elections for both parties. In each of the districts holding primaries for both parties, the political entity controlling the seat before the election saw more people vote in that party’s primary. The most significant race was the special primary election in the 12th District, the seat former Rep. Pat Tiberi (R) vacated to return to the private sector. There, 23,902 more people voted in the Republican primary, thus providing some tangible support for predicting the state Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) is favored to win the seat in the Aug. 7 special general vote.

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Big Primary Results

By Jim Ellis

2018-elections-open-seats-185May 9, 2018 — Voters in four states made their preliminary electoral statements known last night, choosing nominees in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia in the 2018 election cycle’s first multi-state primary event. The night included defeating the first incumbent of the electoral season, North Carolina three-term Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte), and nominating two Senate nominees in what could become first-tier Republican challenger campaigns.

Indiana

One of the more interesting contests heading into yesterday’s voting was the Indiana GOP Senate primary where three major contenders were vying for the right to advance into the general election and face first-term Sen. Joe Donnelly (D). There, former state representative and national distribution company owner Mike Braun attempted to seamlessly drape both Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie) in the algae of the Washington swamp, with the two House members retaliating that Braun is a former Democrat with a voting record that supported raising taxes 47 times.

Considering that Braun proved successful in winning the nomination last night, his strategy and clever advertising campaign worked but, in the aggregate, almost 60 percent of the Republican primary electorate still voted for one of the two congressman. In the end, Braun captured 41.2 percent of the vote, enough of a plurality to claim the nomination. Rep. Rokita was second with 30 percent, while Rep. Messer was a very close third, getting 28.8 percent of the GOP vote. Braun swept virtually all of the counties outside of Congressional Districts 4 and 6, which belong to Reps. Rokita and Messer, respectively.

A Donnelly-Braun general election will be highly competitive, as now the new Republican nominee will make the incumbent senator the focal point of his anti-Washington swamp, politics-as-usual campaign strategy. The Indiana race now becomes one of the premier GOP challenge targets in the country.

In the House races, while Braun ran strongly throughout most of the state, he failed to provide familial coattails. His brother, Steve Braun, fell to state Rep. Jim Baird (R-Greencastle) in a 36-29 percent spread from a 4th District GOP electorate that exceeded 80,000 votes. Baird will easily win the general election and come to Washington as Rep. Rokita’s replacement in the western state congressional district that touches the outer Indianapolis suburbs.

Turning to the eastern 6th District, in a highly expected result, Vice President Mike Pence’s older brother, Greg Pence, easily captured the Republican nomination for Rep. Messer’s open seat. His 65 percent victory over four opponents sends him into a general election campaign that he will surely win in November.

North Carolina

All local political observers were following the two Republican US House incumbents facing strong challengers. As mentioned in the introduction, Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) became the first House member in this fledgling election cycle to be denied re-nomination. Pittenger, who came within just 134 votes of losing the 2016 GOP primary, could not overcome former pastor Mark Harris this year. Harris, a 2014 US Senate candidate, ran two years later for the post court-mandated redistricting seat that changed 60 percent of the district just before the 2016 primary.

Though it looked like Rep. Pittenger would have an easier road to re-nomination this year, the opposite proved true. Harris won the party nomination, 48.5–46.2 percent, a margin of 814 votes of more than 35,000 primary votes cast. Harris will now face the new Democratic nominee, businessman Dan McCready who is already on record saying he won’t vote for Nancy Pelosi as House speaker if he wins in November. The 9th District, which stretches from Charlotte to Fayetteville, posted a 54-43 percent victory for President Trump. Rep. Pittenger won re-election in 2016 with 58 percent of the vote. Though the numbers stack up well for Republicans in this district, with McCready already raising $1.9 million for the primary, it makes this contest competitive and may become a targeted Democratic challenge race.

Moving to the Outer Banks region, veteran Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville), also facing serious competition, scored a 43 percent victory to win what he says will be his last term. The fact that he had two opponents who pulled virtually equal support allowed Jones to win again with just a plurality. He faces no competition in the general election, which means last night’s victory assures him of re-election in the fall.

In the Greensboro area, as expected, University of North Carolina at Greensboro trustee Kathy Manning, another challenger who has raised well into seven figures, easily advanced into the general election last night with 70 percent of the vote. She will face freshman Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) in another November race that appears more competitive than the regional voting history might suggest. Budd garnered 56 percent in his first general election. The congressman was unopposed last night in the Republican primary.

Ohio

The Ohioans voted as expected last night. Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth) scored a 47-32 percent win over investment banker Mike Gibbons to win the 2018 Republican Senate nomination. The congressman now advances against two-term Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) in November.

Originally a gubernatorial candidate, Renacci made the smart switch to the Senate race after attorney general and former US Sen. Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted voluntarily formed a ticket to effectively clinch the nomination in the early part of the year. All of these strategic moves proved prescient, as DeWine easily won the gubernatorial election last night, 60-40 percent over Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor (R); Rep. Renacci secured the Senate nomination.

In the 12th District special election, state Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) out-paced Liberty Township Trustee Melanie Leneghan by a single percentage point (29-28 percent) and topped a field of seven other candidates to win the Republican nomination and advance to the Aug. 7 special election. Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor easily won the Democratic nomination. The 12th is a reliably Republican seat, and with a 24,000-vote edge in total turnout last night, Sen. Balderson becomes the clear favorite to win the special general. Both men also were nominated for the full two-year term in November.

Looking at Rep. Renacci’s open Cleveland-Akron area 16th District, technology executive and former NFL football player Anthony Gonzalez defeated conservative state Rep. Christina Hagan (R-Marlboro Township) 53-41 percent to win the Republican nomination. Gonzalez will now face healthcare company executive Susan Moran Palmer, who captured the Democratic nomination. The former Indianapolis Colts and Ohio State Buckeye wide receiver is the favorite to win the seat in November.

West Virginia

In the other premier Senate contest of the evening, media reports that disgraced former coal company CEO Don Blankenship was making a serious move on the Republican nomination proved erroneous as two-term Attorney General Patrick Morrisey won the GOP primary with a 35-29 percent margin over US Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-Huntington). Placing third with 20 percent of the Republican vote was Blankenship. AG Morrisey won the right to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin in the general election. The incumbent defeated a Democratic primary challenger from his left, environmentalist Paula Jean Swearingen, 70-30 percent.

Morrisey swept the northern and central portions of the state, with Rep. Jenkins dominating south West Virginia, the site of his congressional district. Blankenship won four small counties. The Manchin-Morrisey Senate election now becomes a top-tier Republican challenge race.

With Reps. David McKinley (R-Wheeling) and Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) running unopposed for re-nomination, the congressional action was in Rep. Jenkins’ open 3rd District where state House Majority Whip and farmer Carol Miller (R-Cabell County) topped a field of six other Republican candidates, including two sitting state delegates, one former delegate and congressional nominee, and an ex-West Virginia Republican Party chairman to win a close nomination campaign. She begins the general election in the favorite’s position against state senator and Iraq War veteran Richard Ojeda (D-Holden/Logan) who easily won the Democratic primary.

Primary Previews

By Jim Ellis

2018-elections-open-seats-185May 8, 2018 — Today’s elections kick-off the prime time of primary season, with voters in four states — Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia — choosing nominees for November. Here is an outlook for each of the states:

Indiana

With no governor’s race on the ballot this year, the Republican Senate nomination campaign tops the Indiana political card, which is one of the more interesting campaigns in the country. Here, Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie) are battling former state representative and Meyer Distributing and Meyer Logistics companies’ owner Mike Braun for the right to face first-term Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in November. Donnelly has no opposition for his party nomination.

Braun has gained national notoriety for his campaign, which has strategically melded both congressmen into basically one person. The Braun Campaign ads have characterized Reps. Rokita and Messer as being part of the Washington “swamp”, concentrating negatively on their budget and trade votes, as well as casting them as professional politicians. He even goes so far as to brandish two cardboard cutouts of the congressmen where they are dressed exactly alike and says they are both lawyers who never practiced, instead spending their entire careers in politics.

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North Carolina: New Districts, New Candidates

By Jim Ellis

March 30, 2016 — The court-ordered North Carolina redistricting map is final and the new candidate filing period closed at the end of the preceding week.

The statewide and local legislative primaries were previously conducted, in conjunction with the presidential primary on March 15, but the congressional nominations were moved to June 7. Originally, all North Carolina primaries were scheduled for March 15, but the late court action necessitated opening a new filing period for the significantly altered congressional map.

The original 2011 congressional map elected 10 Republicans and three Democrats to the 13 total seats. When the court remanded the map back to the legislature with instructions to change the districts in relation to minority representation, the legislature did just that: a rather radical redraw that will still likely keep the state at 10R-3D, but assures a somewhat different group of people representing many of the changed districts.

The biggest difference will be the elimination of at least one Republican House member, as representatives Renee Ellmers (R-Dunn) and George Holding (R-Raleigh) are squaring off against each other in the new 2nd District that contains all or parts of six counties. The district contains all of Wake County with the exception of the city of Raleigh.

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Catching Up on Races That Have Gone Into Political Overtime

During the past week’s primaries, several races ventured into political overtime, which we update today.

WI-6

Last night in central Wisconsin’s open 6th District race – Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI-6) retiring – the Associated Press prematurely declared state Sen. Glenn Grothman the winner of the Republican primary. Now the projection has been rescinded as fellow GOP Sen. Joe Leibham rebounded in the remaining Sheboygan County votes to pull into a virtual tie.

When the projection was made, Grothman had a comfortable eight percentage point lead over Leibham, with Assemblyman Duey Stroebel dropping well behind in third place. As more of Sheboygan County continued to be counted, Leibham’s strength exponentially increased to the point of him finishing just 214 votes behind. All precincts are reporting, but provisional counting is underway. It is unlikely there are enough votes outstanding to change the outcome, but an even closer finish will lead to a recount. Therefore, we are probably weeks from arriving at a final total.

Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris is the Democratic nominee and, on paper, he appears to be a credible candidate. If he is to seriously compete, however, he, his Continue reading >

Another Primary Today

Connecticut

The only race of interest on the Nutmeg State board today is the Republican gubernatorial primary. With Gov. Dan Malloy (D) registering poor job approval numbers and even trailing in some polls, the Republican nomination may be worth having even in this Democratic state. In 2010, former US Ambassador Tom Foley (R) came within 6,404 votes of defeating Malloy in the closest gubernatorial contest of the 2010 election cycle.

Amb. Foley returns for a re-match and is favored over state Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R), the son of the late former Rep. Stewart McKinney (R-CT-4). McKinney is running a spirited campaign but will likely fall short. Should Foley win the nomination, the general election will be competitive.

All five incumbent House members are seeking re-election, and all are favorites to win re-election. The only moderately competitive race features a 2010 re-match of a 53-47 percent contest between Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT-4) and former state legislator Dan Debicella (R).

Minnesota

Sen. Al Franken’s (D) numbers have been relatively good as he works toward his first  Continue reading >

Clarity in Georgia, North Carolina Senate Races?

Two of the more important Senate races in this 2014 election cycle are occurring in Georgia and North Carolina. Both states are in play for the general election; each party holds one of the two seats, both are major targets, and crowded Republican primaries in the pair of places will soon be clarified.

If several new polls are accurate, certain candidates may be breaking away from their respective packs as we approach the May 6 North Carolina primary and the May 20 vote in Georgia. If a candidate exceeds 40 percent of the NC vote, that person is nominated. In the Peach State, it takes the traditional 50 percent plus one vote to claim the nomination outright.

Georgia Primary: May 20 – Run-off, July 22

This is one of two Republican seats, Kentucky (Mitch McConnell) being the other, where Democrats are competitive. The Republican primary features five accomplished candidates, all of whom can construct a reasonable path to victory. A run-off is a virtual certainty here, but many scenarios exist about which two Republicans  Continue reading >

Virginia’s “Firehouse” Primary Tomorrow; Other Primary Developments

A congressional nomination will be decided tomorrow in the Washington, DC suburbs of Northern Virginia. Expectations suggest a limited number of Republican voters will participate in what is termed a “firehouse” primary.

The characteristics of such a voting event are unique. First, only 11 polling places will be open throughout the entire district: just one apiece in Clarke, Frederick, and Prince William Counties, and in the cities of Manassas, Manassas Park, and Winchester. Fairfax County will feature two polling locations, and Loudoun County, a locality housing more than 350,000 residents, will have only three. Instead of voting in one’s own neighborhood as is normally the case, individuals will have to travel, in some instances more than 20 miles, and stand in what could be a long line because there are so few polling places. Thus, participating in this election will take a much greater commitment from every voter than in normal primaries.
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Dems Hit Tillis in NC Senate Race

It is becoming clear who the Democrats don’t want Sen. Kay Hagan to face in November. The Senate Majority PAC, conducting an independent expenditure operation in the North Carolina Senate race, just unleashed a major attack ad against state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Cornelius). This is their second wave of commercials that individually targets Tillis.

The Tar Heel State race is one of the key contests that will likely determine which party captures the Senate majority. Sen. Hagan seeks a second term after defeating then-Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) in the 2008 general election, but is having a difficult time breaking away from the pack in this campaign. Poll after poll shows the incumbent lagging slightly behind all of her Republican opponents, even though virtually all of them have low name identification. Clearly, a sitting senator trailing candidates such as Heather Grant, an Iraq war veteran and nurse, while only consistently scoring in the low 40 percentile range is cause for concern.


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Is Hagan the Most Vulnerable Senator in 2014?

Survey USA just released confirming data for Public Policy Polling’s long-term consistent findings about the North Carolina Senate race.

Every month, PPP surveys the Tar Heel State mainly because they are a Raleigh-based company. For more than a year, the survey research firm has been forecasting that first-term Sen. Kay Hagan (D) is positioned in the mid to low 40s, sometimes leading her largely unknown Republican opponents by a point or two, other times trailing them by similar margins.

Now, Survey USA tested the NC electorate and found an almost identical result, thus lending more evidence to support the analysis saying that Sen. Hagan is highly endangered for re-election.

According to S-USA (March 27-31; 1,930 registered North Carolina voters for the job approval question; 1,489 respondents for the ballot test questions; 433 likely  Continue reading >

More Senate Democrat Weakness Showing

Two new Public Policy Polling surveys, one in New Hampshire and the other from North Carolina, reveal increased weakness for a pair of Senate Democratic incumbents. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) has been on the vulnerability list for the entire election cycle so her poor showing is not particularly surprising, but New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) has, heretofore, been viewed as a clear favorite.

New Hampshire

The New Hampshire situation is becoming interesting because it involves former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R). You will remember that Brown came to national prominence in early 2010 when he won the special Bay State senatorial election to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D). Three years later he fell to Democrat Elizabeth Warren in the 2012 regular election, and has since re-located to neighboring New Hampshire where he has clearly been testing the waters for a run against Sen. Shaheen.
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NC Senate Race Suddenly Tightens; A VA AG 164-Vote Winner

A new North Carolina Public Policy Polling survey (Nov. 8-11; 701 registered North Carolina voters) shows that, despite still being viewed as generally weak and for months viewed as a 2014 Republican candidate recruiting disappointment, the current challengers are pulling into a virtual tie with first-term Sen. Kay Hagan (D).

According to the results, Sen. Hagan actually trails physician Greg Brannon, heavily backed by Tea Party supporters, 43-44 percent. She leads state House Speaker Thom Tillis, the national Republican political committees’ favored candidate, by only 42-40 percent, and scores just a 43-41 percent edge over senior Baptist minister Mark Harris. Against virtually unknown nurse and Army veteran Heather Grant, the senator’s advantage is a mere 43-40 percent.

The new data provides evidence that Sen. Hagan’s political position weakening. In PPP’s October 4-6 poll (746 registered North Carolina voters), the incumbent held a 47-40 percent lead over Speaker Tillis, and similar spreads over Brannon (46-40  Continue reading >