Tillis' slightly improved position is a reflection of Republicans starting to close ranks a little bit more as the election approaches. Last month in the head to head with Hagan he led by 59 points with Republican voters at 72/13, now it's a 71 points advantage at 79/8. And although his favorability numbers still remain very poor at a 28/48 spread, those are also up some from a month ago when they were 24/47. That's also a reflection of improvement with his party base- he's gone from a 39/29 spread with GOP voters up to 52/24.
Nevertheless the recent legislative session continues to be a weight on Tillis. One of the GOP's main goals was to look more moderate on education by increasing teacher salaries, but for the most part those efforts have fallen flat with voters. Only 39% think a good faith effort was made to raise teacher pay this session, compared to 50% who think it was not. Asked to grade the General Assembly's work on education this year 45% of voters give it a D or an F, compared to only 25% who give it an A or a B. The mean grade comes out somewhere in the C-/D+ range. Voters also express overall opposition to the budget that was finally passed, with 29% in support of it to 44% who are opposed. The approval rating for the General Assembly is 21%, with 57% of voters disapproving of it.
Hagan remains unpopular as well though. She has a 42% approval rating compared to 49% of voters who disapprove of her. Hagan's approval numbers have tracked very closely with Barack Obama's for months now- only 41% of voters are happy with the job he's doing to 54% who disapprove.
So yes, if the Republicans had managed to nominate anyone who wasn't a teacher-hating jackass, Hagan would be in real trouble and probably down by double digits. As it is, Tillis's problems are enough to outweigh Hagan's -- and President Obama's -- so far.
We'll see if Key Hagan can hold on to this, and the wild card remains Libertarian Sean Haugh, who has 8% of the vote so far. If Haugh starts taking more of Tillis's voters, Hagan can win, because with Haugh out of the picture, the numbers become 43/42 in favor of Hagan with a healthy chunk of undecided. Right now, Haugh is costing Tillis the race, and that can't be sitting will with Tillis's campaign people.
Just 11 weeks to go...