Thom Tillis may now officially be in the US Senate race, but Republican voters in North Carolina are still shopping for another candidate. Only 9% say Tillis would be their first choice, which puts him in a tie for third with Renee Ellmers among candidates considering the race.
The first choice of GOP voters by a wide margin is Virginia Foxx who's at 23%,giving her a 12 point edge on runner up Phil Berger at 11%. Rounding out the field after Tillis and Ellmers are Jim Cain at 8%, Greg Brannon at 7%, Mark Harris at 4%, and Lynn Wheeler at 3%.
Foxx's early lead is being driven by the right wing of the Republican Party. Among voters identifying themselves as 'very conservative,' she's at 32% with Ellmers next at 12%. But even with moderates Foxx leads the way at 23% to 11% for Cain. Foxx also has the strongest geographic base of any of the candidates, polling at 55% in the Triad while no one else gets over 25% in their home base.
Voters continue to be closely divided in their feelings about Kay Hagan- 41% approve of her to 42% who disapprove. But with Cherie Berry, who had been the strongest Republican candidate in polling, out of the race Hagan is now back to leading the entire GOP field in head to head match ups.
Despite Hagan's lead over all the Republicans at this point the numbers certainly continue to point to a very close race. None of the GOP hopefuls have more than 50% name recognition so there's a decent chance that as the eventual candidate becomes better known they will gain some ground.
One other note on Tillis in the wake of his candidacy launch- 37% of voters think he should resign as Speaker now that he's in the Senate race to 23% who think he should continue on. 40% don't have an opinion either way. What's interesting is that there's bipartisan consensus on that question- Democrats (39/16), Republicans (35/30), and independents (33/28) with an opinion all think he should step aside now that he's running for higher office.
Full results here