Tillis’ message and his strategy have been nothing if not consistent. In May he smashed his weak primary-season challengers, Libertarian/Tea Party darling Greg Brannon (27 percent) and Charlotte pastor Mark Harris (17 percent). And he remained on message long enough, months later, to beat the incumbent Hagan handily.
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“It’s as much an anti-Obama vote as any of the other reasons, but not entirely,” retired Charlotte neurosurgeon Jerry Greenhooot, told The Charlotte Observer. “I can’t think of one thing (Hagan) has done.”
One recent poll suggests Tillis has his work cut out for him in the likeability department, despite what happened last night. An NBC News/Marist poll conducted Oct. 19-23 showed Hagan's disapproval rating at 48 percent and Tillis' unfavorables at 44 percent. For some voters, it was a matter of not so much liking Tillis as it was a case of just disliking Hagan more.
Still, Tillis managed to capitalize on the viral discontent with Washington in general and the Obama administration in particular. Tapping into that broad sentiment didn’t make a big difference last night. Just big enough to win. We’ll see if the sweeping bipartisan overture he made in May holds up when he gets to Capitol Hill next year.
Image credits: Tillis: via Real Clear Politics.