PPP's final poll of the North Carolina Republican Senate primary finds that Greg Brannon and Mark Harris are finally picking up some steam, but that it may be too little too late. Thom Tillis leads right at the 40% mark needed to avoid a runoff, followed by Brannon at 28% and Harris at 15% with the other candidates combining for a total of 8%. 11% of voters remain undecided so that should give Tillis the breathing room needed to get over 40%, but it doesn't look as certain as it did a week ago.
The momentum has been on the anti-establishment candidates' side as the race has come to a close. Brannon's support has increased 8 points in the final week of the campaign and Harris' has increased by 4 points. Their increases in support come as voters report having seen more from their campaigns- they've each had an 8-9 point increase in the percentage that have seen their tv ads, while Tillis was already pretty much maxed out on that front.
Negative ads against Tillis have also started to take more of a toll. His net favorability rating with Republican primary voters has declined 9 points in the last week +32 at 56/24 previously to now +23 at 52/29. 73% of voters now report having seen negative ads against Tillis and they're having an impact- among those who've seen them Tillis' favorability is only 47/38, and he leads Brannon just 36/35.
Nevertheless Tillis looks to have a pretty good chance at getting to the magic 40% mark on Tuesday. He's in the 39-43% range with all three major ideological groups that we track- moderates, 'somewhat conservative, and 'very conservative' voters. He has the lead in every section of the state and it's by double digits everywhere except for Charlotte and the Mountains where Harris pulls his highest level of support. He's at 49% with seniors who have composed a huge portion of the early voting electorate, and he does equally well with men and women. There's no segment he's really weak with, and that bodes well for his prospects.
There is a chance this is headed to a runoff though, and the numbers in a hypothetical match up between Tillis and Brannon show you why the Republican establishment is so scared of that possibility- Tillis would start out leading Brannon only 46/40, with supporters of the also rans moving their support over to Brannon by a 47/29 margin. And as Ted Cruz showed in 2012 a Tea Party candidate with the momentum heading into the runoff can reverse a poll deficit real quick. That's why everyone will be watching 40% really closely on Tuesday night.
Full results here