Dem poll: Hagan trails GOP challengers

Greg Nash

Sen. Kay Hagan's (D-N.C.) approval ratings are underwater, and she narrowly trails her Republican challengers, according to a new automated survey by North Carolina-based Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.

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Hagan's approval rating is at 41 percent with 50 percent disapproving, numbers that have remained unchanged since the conservative group Americans for Prosperity began bombarding the freshman senator with negative ads late in the fall.

She trails North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R), 42 percent to 40 percent, and trails two other Republican opponents by two points as well. Tea Party favorite Greg Brannon (R) leads Hagan, 43 percent to 40 percent.

Hagan's best chance at reelection might be a drawn-out and ugly GOP primary, and the poll indicates that's where things might be headed.

Tillis leads the way with 20 percent of the GOP electorate, with Brannon and former nurse Heather Grant (R) at 13 percent apiece, former Shelby Mayor Ted Alexander (R) at 10 percent and Rev. Mark Harris (R) at 10 percent. Tillis has a big cash lead on his primary opponents, but they've begun to take shots at him in forums and Web ads.

If no candidate wins 40 percent of the vote in the May primary, the top two vote-winners will face off in a July runoff.

The automated poll of 708 registered voters, including 305 Republican primary voters, was conducted from Feb. 6-9. The main poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percent and the GOP primary's margin of error is plus or minus 5.6 percent. PPP's survey includes 80 percent voters reached by landline and 20 percent conducted on the Internet to reach those with only cellphones.