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NC Senate: Hagan, Tillis Race Costliest and Still a Dead Heat

Image: NC Senate: Hagan, Tillis Race Costliest and Still a Dead Heat
Democratic Senator Kay Hagan and U.S. Senate Republican candidate and North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis. (John Taggart/The Stumping Grounds/EPA/Landov; Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Tuesday, 04 Nov 2014 04:13 PM

After the most expensive U.S. Senate race in history, North Carolina voters voiced frustration with federal and state governments as they went to the polls on Tuesday to choose between Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis.

More than $108 million was spent on the matchup that will help decide majority control of the Senate, according to the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation. Yet the candidates remained nearly tied ahead of Election Day, with the RealClearPolitics poll average showing Hagan up by just 0.7 percentage point.

Hagan, 61, is seeking a second term in a polarized state that has leaned more heavily in favor of Republicans since she beat Elizabeth Dole for the seat in 2008.

Political analysts say Hagan has run a strong campaign, tying Tillis, speaker of the Republican-led North Carolina House, to unpopular legislative actions that she argues have hurt women, education and the middle class.

Tillis, 54, has fired back by linking Hagan to the "failed policies" of Barack Obama. The Democratic president has become increasingly unpopular in the Tar Heel state, which he won in the 2008 election but narrowly lost in 2012.

At a polling site in Winston-Salem on Tuesday, several voters said they were disgusted by the partisan gridlock in Washington and the state legislature's handling of public education.

"I'm really super frustrated with the North Carolina legislature," said Beau Dancy, 58, a general contractor and a Democrat.

He said he voted for the incumbent, but added, "it was more of an anti-vote on (Tillis) than a positive vote on Hagan."

In Raleigh, Republican voter Edward Sanders, 59, said he voted for Hagan in 2008 but decided this time to go with Tillis.

"I don't particularly like Tillis, but he seemed more likely to shake things up in Washington," said Sanders, a mechanical engineer.

The $108 million spent on the North Carolina race makes it the costliest U.S. Senate contest in history, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

North Carolina saw record early voting for a midterm election in the state, with overall turnout up 20 percent over the 2010 midterm, according to the State Board of Elections.

The uptick was possibly fueled by the race's competitive nature and anger toward the state government, political scientist Michael Bitzer said on his "Old North State Politics" blog.

Registered Democrats cast nearly 48 percent of early ballots, compared with about 32 percent by Republicans and about 20 percent by unaffiliated voters, state data showed.

African-American and unaffiliated voters posted big increases in early voting participation over 2010, up nearly 45 percent and 43 percent, respectively.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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After the most expensive U.S. Senate race in history, North Carolina voters voiced frustration with federal and state governments as they went to the polls on Tuesday to choose between Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis. More than $108 million was...
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2014-13-04
Tuesday, 04 Nov 2014 04:13 PM
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