PPP's newest North Carolina poll finds voters in the state closely divided on Kay Hagan but supporting her by at least 6 points over all of her potential Republican opponents because they are unknown and/or unpopular.
34% of voters approve of the job Hagan is doing, 36% disapprove, and 31% don't have an opinion one way or the other. A three way split between voters happy, unhappy, and ambivalent toward her has pretty much been the story with her poll numbers ever since she was elected in 2008.
Nevertheless Hagan leads all the potential Republican opponents we tested against her by margins ranging from 6-10 points. The ones who come within 6 points are Renee Ellmers (46/40) and Patrick McHenry (45/39). Virginia Foxx trails by 7 points at 47/40. Coming in 8 points behind are George Holding (45/37) and Robert Pittenger (46/38). Phil Berger is down by 9 points at 47/38 and performing the worst is Thom Tillis with a 10 point deficit at 47/37.
Hagan's situation is pretty reminiscent of Richard Burr's four years ago. Burr also had middling approval numbers but like the Republicans now, the Democrats then had a weak bench and buoyed by the strong pro-GOP political tide he ended up getting reelected by 12 points. Depending on the political climate and whether the GOP is ultimately able to get a top notch candidate into the race this could end up being a toss up...but it could also end up being a blowout.
Virginia Foxx continues to be at the top of the list for who Republican voters would like to run next year. 21% want her to be their candidate to 15% for Patrick McHenry, 11% for Renee Ellmers, 6% for Robert Pittenger, 5% for Richard Hudson and Phil Berger, and 2% each for George Holding and Thom Tillis. Tillis, Holding, and Berger are rumored to be among the most eager potential Senate aspirants, but there's not a lot of enthusiasm for them yet with the GOP base. Tillis' numbers are particularly embarrassing given his two year long statewide Town Hall tour that has bordered on being a campaign.
The bottom line on this race remains the same- North Carolinians aren't in love with Kay Hagan but they're not dying to get rid of her either, and the GOP has some work to do to recruit a candidate who can beat her.
Full results here