Poll shows NC Senate race tightening
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Less than 2 percentage points separate Sen. Kay HaganKay HaganLinking repatriation to job creation Former Sen. Kay Hagan in ICU after being rushed to hospital GOP senator floats retiring over gridlock MORE (D-N.C.) from GOP challenger Thom TillisThom R. TillisDem pushed plan for both sides to admit to abusing Senate rules: report Overnight Defense: FBI chief confirms Trump campaign, Russia probe | Senators push for Afghan visas | Problems persist at veterans' suicide hotline Senators ask to include visas for Afghans in spending bill MORE, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

The survey from USA Today and Suffolk University shows the race deadlocked with a month to go.

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Hagan leads Tillis, the Speaker of the state House, 46.8 percent to 45.4 percent among likely voters and “leaners,” those who aren’t completely decided but would lean toward a certain candidate if the election were today.

The top-line numbers show the margin tightening slightly. Most polls from September found Hagan besting Tillis by anywhere from 3 to 7 percentage points.

Tillis holds a sizable lead among white voters, 51 percent to 38 percent. But Hagan has even stronger support among nonwhite voters, where she leads 68 percent to 25 percent.

David Paleologos, the director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center that conducted the poll, said in a column in USA Today that Hagan “will win easily” if minority voters make up a quarter of the electorate.

“However, if minority intensity and participation falls into the mid-to-low teens, Tillis will ride his commanding lead among white voters right into the Senate,” he said.

The poll also found that voters had mixed reviews of the candidates’ two most recent lines of attacks. Fifty-three percent said that a new ad charging Hagan with missing Senate Armed Services Committee hearings would make no difference in their decisions, while 35 percent said it would make them less likely to vote for Hagan.

The attack charging Tillis with cutting $500 million from North Carolina schools and opposing changes to student loans that could make them more affordable appeared slightly more effective with voters.  Forty-five percent said it made no difference, while 39 percent said the ad would make them less likely to vote for Tillis.

The new numbers came out after Tuesday night’s debate, where the two fought over a host of issues including the economy, the Ebola virus and gay marriage.

The North Carolina seat, just like any competitive Senate race in 2014, is crucial as each party seeks to cement control of the body for the last two years of President Obama’s term.

The new poll has a 4.4 percentage point margin of error.