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Thom Tillis Nosedives In NC GOP Senate Primary. Garland Tucker on the Rise

Garland Tucker
For years, I did polls at the Civitas Institute. I’ve never seen an incumbent Senator drop as much, as quickly, as Thom Tillis.
   – Francis DeLuca

You see it once every thirty or forty years in politics: An incumbent Senator collapsing in his own primary.

Garland Tucker announced in May. Months earlier he had taken a poll and, after airing TV ads in May, June and July, he polled again. The poll, a random sample of 500 people who vote in the Republican Primaries, was done by Diversified Research which was founded by the late Arthur Finklestein who polled for North Carolina Senators Jesse Helms, John East and Lauch Faircloth.

The ballot question tells the story of what happened to Thom Tillis.

Ballot: In the campaign’s first poll, taken before Thom Tillis flip-flopped on President Trump’s Border Emergency Declaration and when Garland Tucker was unknown, Tillis led then by 56 points. In the July poll Tillis’ world turned upside down:

1st Poll  July Poll +/-

Garland Tucker       7              30           +23

Thom Tillis           63           40           -23

Undecided           30           30           0

Tillis plummeted by 46 plus points, ending up with only 40% of the Republican Primary voters supporting him – a thin number for an incumbent Senator.

Worse for Tillis, he now only leads Garland Tucker by 10 points with 30% of the voters Undecided. There’s a long history that shows, in a campaign between an incumbent like Tillis and lesser-known challenger, Undecided voters usually break against the incumbent by 2 to 1.

Ideology of Voters: Voters were asked, Would you say you are a liberal, a Moderate, or a Conservative in your political beliefs?

July Poll

Liberal/Moderate              13

Somewhat Conservative    24

Very Conservative            58

Don’t Know/Refused         5

Total Liberal/Moderate      13

Total Conservative            82

82% of the voters (in a Republican Primary) are Conservative and 58% are Very Conservative.

Ideology of Thom Tillis: Voters were asked, Would you say Thom Tillis is Liberal, Moderate or Conservative in his political beliefs?

1st Poll  July Poll Change

Liberal/Moderate                        30           47           +17

Somewhat Conservative             30           26           -4

Very Conservative                      17           9              -8

Don’t Know/Refused                  23           18           -5

Total Liberal/Moderate 30           47           +17

Total Conservative                     47           35           -12

Voters now view Thom Tillis as more Liberal/Moderate (by 17 points) and as Less Conservative (by 12 points) – a net change of 29 points.

Ideology of Garland Tucker: In the first poll, Garland Tucker was unknown. In the second poll:

1st Poll  July Poll +/-

Liberal/Moderate            -              4              +4

Somewhat Conservative -              15           +15

Very Conservative           -             17           +17

Don’t Know/Refused      -              64          

Total Liberal/Moderate     -              4              +4

Total Conservative          -              32           +32

Favorable-Unfavorable to Thom Tillis: Voters were asked: Do you have a Favorable or Unfavorable opinion of Thom Tillis?

1st Poll  July Poll +/-

Favorable            72           52           -20

Unfavorable       8              30           +22

No Opinion         16           16           0

Never Heard of 4              2              -2

Thom Tillis’ Favorable rating dropped 20 points and his Unfavorable rose 22 points, a net drop in Tillis’ popularity of 42 points, almost the same as his drop on the ballot (of 46 points). A Republican Senator with a 30% Unfavorable among Republicans is a stunning negative.

Favorable-Unfavorable to Garland Tucker: Garland Tucker was largely unknown in the first poll. In the second poll his ‘Hard’ name identification increased by 20 points and the percent of voters who’d never heard of him dropped by 20 points.

1st Poll  July Poll +/-

Favorable            8              26           +18

Unfavorable       1              3              +2

No Opinion         29           29           -0-

Never Heard of    62           42           -20

President Trump’s Job Approval: Republican primary voters strongly approve of the job President Trump is doing:

1st Poll  July Poll

Approve              90           89

Disapprove         9              9

Refused               1              2

Tillis’ Support of Trump: Voters were asked whether Thom Tillis’ level of support for President Trump has been about right or whether Tillis has failed to support Trump often enough.

About Right        12%

Not Enough        69%

Trump’s Endorsement of Tillis: Voters were asked, Knowing President Trump has endorsed Thom Tillis, does this mean you are definitely going to vote for Thom Tillis or do you still want to learn more about Thom Tillis’ record and his votes?

Definitely Vote Tillis         14%

Want to learn more        73%

Refused               13%

 When President Trump endorsed Tillis voters already knew Tillis had repeatedly opposed Trump – so Trump’s endorsement had limited benefit to Tillis.

Next, we asked a series of questions about Garland Tucker and Thom Tillis’ stands on issues – from raising the debt ceiling to cutting spending to a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Then, we asked a second ‘informed ballot’ question.

Informed Ballot: After learning more about Garland Tucker and Thom Tillis, who would you vote for in the Republican Primary for U.S. Senate?

Garland Tucker    55%

Thom Tillis           17%

Undecided          28%

Summary: Thom Tillis started the primary with broad but thin support and after he flip-flopped on President Trump’s Emergency Declaration the ice cracked beneath Tillis’ feet. He plummeted. Then Garland Tucker’s campaign told voters about Tillis’ record on two issues: Co-sponsoring the bill with liberal Senator Cory Booker to protect the Mueller investigation and Tillis opposing President Trump’s 30% cuts in foreign aid spending. By July, Tillis had dropped a total of 46 points.

And Tillis’ position continues to be precarious because voters still do not know about many of his stands on issues. For instance, voters don’t know Thom Tillis introduced a bill to give a pathway to citizenship to illegal immigrants. The more voters learn about Tillis’ record, the more Tillis’ support will drop.

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Tillis vs Tucker

Great. Lose the never Trump crowd and replace them with conservatives. It is great to see voters support the principles that will get the job done. Are you listening McConnell??