It’s not the most likely state for Republicans to pick up a U.S. Senate seat in 2014, but North Carolina does attract RealClearPolitics analyst Sean Trende‘s attention in a column highlighting Senate seats that could flip from one major party to the other next year. Trende labels North Carolina a “Tier 2B” state, with four other (Tier 1 and Tier 2A) races more likely to lead to changes in partisan affiliation.
This race is a lot like Louisiana. [Kay] Hagan was able to win against a weak Republican incumbent in 2008 in part because of turnout the Obama campaign generated. That turnout dissipated in 2010, as Republican Sen. Richard Burr won by the largest margin of any Senate candidate in North Carolina since 1974. Now it’s Hagan’s turn to run in the off-year electorate. Polling has steadily shown her narrowly leading state House Majority Leader Thom Tillis, although her margins are in single digits and she takes around 45 percent of the vote here.
Complicating things, all of the polling is from Democratic survey firm PPP, which selects from registered voters who turned out in 2008, 2010 or 2012; in other words, they probably let through the “Obama electorate,” which may or may not materialize in 2014. Further complicating matters, Tillis is the face of the controversial North Carolina legislature; he may be a one-man turnout machine for Democrats. Of course, he has to make it through a crowded Republican primary first.