First, some context about this post: I live in Upstate South Carolina, less than 20 miles from downtown Charlotte, NC. I'm also an avid Jeopardy watcher.
Why is this important you ask? Well, ever since NC House Speaker Thom Tillis won the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate race in June, there have been non-stop television ads... on behalf of his opponent, incumbent Kay Hagan. If you think Alex Trebek can be annoying, combine that with wall-to-wall negative ads paid for by Harry Reid's SuperPAC designed to "Romney" (verb) Thom Tillis.
My conventional wisdom and experience by the end of June told me that Harry Reid didn't really need to win North Carolina anyway for him to stay Senate Majority Leader. I figured the post-June Hagan TV blitz in the relatively expensive Charlotte TV market was a test. I figured Hagan was doing well and Reid, along with other liberal groups, would have to move money out of NC to other places. I figured Kay Hagan was a "buffer" but when push came to shove the North Carolina seat was expendable for Reid and Democrats. And finally, I had convinced myself that the Romney-ing of Tillis had worked. Hagan's numbers were climbing and I thought that Tillis had lost the summer and perhaps the whole election.
Boy, did I figure wrong.
In its biggest expenditure this election cycle, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Wednesday launched a $9.1 million TV blitz in North Carolina attacking Republican Thom Tillis.
The ad buy, the largest so far in North Carolina, would be paid out through the end of the campaign. It reflects both the outside interest in a race that will help decide control of the Senate and, some say, concern about Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan.
“It tells me a couple things,” said Jennifer Duffy, an analyst with the Washington-based Cook Political Report. “One, that she really is in trouble. They’re not going to spend that kind of money defending an incumbent who’s in reasonably good shape.
“Two, they’re going to do the negative ads because I don’t think her approval ratings can take any more hits.”