Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC)
North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis’s days in the Senate are numbered.
Tillis is a first term incumbent who won by less than two points in an historically Republican midterm cycle. Tillis won by a mere 1.7 points in 2014 — barely beating a Democratic incumbent in a year in which Republicans took the Senate. In 2020, he starts off with two major disadvantages: Democrats turn out in higher numbers in presidential cycles, and he’ll share the ballot with an historically unpopular president.
No single political party has dominated North Carolina in recent years. Tillis’s seat may have switched from Democrat to Republican in 2014, but the following cycle saw a Democratic governor win the state, even as Trump won the presidential contest. North Carolina is a perennial swing state, and is likely to receive intense, sustained national attention through the 2020 election — meaning more eyes will be on Tillis, more money will flow to his opponent, and more enthusiasm on the ground could boost Democrats.
Tillis is a party loyalist who has proven unwilling to buck the President or Senate leadership.
On hot button issues from Affordable Care Act repeal to the Republican tax scam, Tillis never fails to fall in line with his party — opening him up to sustained criticism from the same voters who delivered a whopping defeat to the GOP in 2018. Tillis even sided with Trump’s reckless shutdown strategy, at the expense of 7,000 furloughed North Carolinians.
Tillis is another vulnerable Senate Republican who will try — and fail — to move back to the center before 2020. But his record may be too conservative for North Carolina. Former Republican Governor Pat McCrory famously lost thanks in part to extreme conservative proposals like HB 2. As the GOP shifts ever rightward, Democrats will have ample opportunity to tie Tillis to similarly unpopular proposals from the extreme right of his party.
Tillis is on notice.
American Bridge will leverage existing research, tracking, and media monitoring to guarantee North Carolinians know Thom Tillis isn’t for them.