PPP's newest look at the Republican primary field for US Senate finds mixed news for Thom Tillis. The bad news is that GOP voters are still shopping for another candidate- 16% say their top choice would be Virginia Foxx, 11% each pick Phil Berger, Jim Cain, and Renee Ellmers, 7% pick Greg Brannon, Tillis is in the 6th place at 5%, and the field is rounded out with Lynn Wheeler at 3% and Mark Harris at 1%.
The good news for Tillis though is that when you narrow the primary field to a small list of potential candidates, he comes out a lot more competitive. In a 3 way primary with Tillis, Ellmers, and Berger it's essentially a three way tie with Berger coming out at 22%, Tillis at 21%, and Ellmers at 18%. That kind of closeness between Tillis and Berger could explain some of the chippiness between their operations, highlighted by the apparent discovery last week that Berger's staff was running a parody Twitter account of Tillis. In a head to head just between Tillis and Ellmers, Tillis leads 32/25.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the incredible unpopularity of the North Carolina legislature may be Kay Hagan though. Voters are still pretty evenly divided in their feelings about her personally, with 43% approving to 45% disapproving. But she nevertheless has double digit leads over all 8 of her potential Republican opponents, an improvement from the numbers she's posted over the last couple months. She's up 10 on Phil Berger and Greg Brannon at 49/39, 11 on Thom Tillis at 49/38, 12 on Virginia Foxx at 49/37, 13 on Jim Cain and Renee Ellmers at 49/36, 14 on Mark Harris at 49/35, and 15 on Lynn Wheeler at 49/34.
One final thing that's worth noting on this poll is how bad Berger and Tillis' favorability numbers are. Each of them is at a -20 spread, 11/31 for Berger and 12/32 for Tillis. We generally find a built in net favorability of about -10 for a politician without much name recognition so part of it's that but in March we had Berger at a -14 spread and Tillis at a -9 one so their situations have gotten much worse over the course of the legislative session. Hagan's biggest liability next year might be her role in an incredibly unpopular Congress...but getting to run against the leaders of an incredibly unpopular legislature can only help her prospects.
Full results here