Sen. Kay HaganKay Ruthven Hagan2020 Dems compete for top campaign operatives Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Politics is purple in North Carolina MORE (D-N.C.) has a narrow lead over North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R), according to a new poll from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.

Hagan leads Tillis by 42 to 38 percent with Libertarian Sean Haugh pulling 8 percent of the vote in the automated survey. In a head-to-head matchup, Hagan's lead shrinks to 43 to 42 percent.

That lead is down from when PPP last polled the state, mostly because undecided Republican voters have started coming home to Tillis. In mid-July, PPP found Hagan with a 7-point lead over Tillis at 41 to 34 percent, with Haugh at 8 percent.

Both politicians remain rather unpopular in what's looking like a race to the bottom. Hagan's favorable rating is underwater at 42 percent approving and 49 percent disapproving. Tillis is even worse at 28 percent approval, with 48 percent disapproval.

Haugh could play the spoiler in the race — most of his supporters would prefer Tillis to Hagan. If Tillis can eat into Haugh's support he'd be in much better shape in the race.

Partisan polls should be taken with a grain of salt, and automated polling hasn't always been as accurate historically as live-caller surveys. But the few other recent polls of the state have found a tight race as well.

The automated poll of 856 likely voters, including 80 percent reached on landlines and 20 percent without landlines reached on the Internet, was conducted from Aug. 14 to 17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.