Experts Available: North Carolina Senate Race

Two Wake Forest University professors – John Dinan, professor of politics and international affairs, and Allan Louden, professor of communication and an expert on political advertising, are available to comment on the North Carolina Senate race.

N.C. likely to be one of the top half-dozen races attracting attention on election night –Congressional elections are generally decided by candidates’ success regarding money, mobilization and messaging, according to John Dinan, and this is likely to be a good guide to the N.C. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and Republican challenger Thom Tillis.

On Money: “Incumbents generally enjoy a funding advantage, and this is clearly the case in the North Carolina contest, both regarding campaign spending and independent group spending,” says Dinan. “Not only has the Hagan campaign raised and spent far more money than the Tillis campaign, but liberal groups have outspent conservative groups in this race by a considerable margin, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.”

On Mobilization: Dinan says Republican candidates have benefited from a voter turnout and mobilization advantage in mid-term elections, when the demographic composition of the electorate is more favorable to them. Republicans are also likely to benefit from the longstanding pattern in mid-term elections whereby the party not in control of the presidency invariably gains seats in mid-term congressional elections and does especially well in mid-term elections in the 6th year of a presidency.

On Message: The election outcome will be determined to a great extent by which of the campaigns is more successful in increasing the prominence of their set of favored issues, says Dinan. “The Hagan campaign is clearly operating on the premise that education policy and to some degree women’s issues are her best route to victory. The Tillis campaign is of the view that he will do best by increasing the prominence in voters’ minds of the federal health care law and Hagan’s votes for this law and her support for other Obama administration policies.”

He said, she said: A look at the political advertisements of the N.C. senate race — Whether wacky, autobiographical or humorous, the goal of political advertisements is to convert two to three percent of voters. “For democrat Kay Hagan, she’s trying to motivate voters by making them angry,” says Allan Louden, professor of communication and political advertising expert who has written presidential debate commentaries for the Charlotte Observer. “Hagan’s attack method is atypical and what you would actually expect out of Republican challenger Thom Tillis, who instead has taken a pretty decent autobiographical approach with voters.”

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