We desperately want blue, but purple will do (for now):
Running in a key presidential battleground, Tillis has to hope things go Trump's way here. The first-term incumbent, who only narrowly won in 2014, ended up avoiding a contentious primary but had to spend money and political capital in the off-year to do it. He didn't make many friends with an infamous flip-flop on Trump's border wall, first penning a Washington Post op-ed against use of an emergency declaration to secure funds for the wall and later, in an appeal to Trump, reversing his position.
He's up against former state Sen. Cal Cunningham, a member of the Army Reserves. It'll be an expensive race, with forces on both sides of the aisle already having booked millions of dollars for TV advertising. Cunningham is outpacing the incumbent on fundraising, bringing in $7.4 million to Tillis' $2.6 million in the second quarter.
CNN has NC as their #4 state for a "flip the Senate" category, but I believe it is the most critical state. Support for Tillis in GOP circles is lukewarm at best, and if he is able to squeak by again, it would not bode well for other NC races. We have to watch out for national conservative PACs swooping in, but we also need to prepare for homegrown shenanigans:
Republicans involved in the race give credit to Carolina Rising, a group run by North Carolina Republican operative Dallas Woodhouse, for giving Tillis some air cover as he tried to turn that corner in August and September. They ran positive spots about him, helping him to boost his image.
It was not clear how much outside help Tillis would get in the home stretch. Heading into the final month, Republican groups faced a gaping $7 million spending disparity with Democrats. Only Crossroads had reserved airtime for October. The NRSC, already stretched thin, had not put any money in.
They believed Tillis could win, but they knew they had to close the spending gap for that to happen. Outside groups, they were sure, were not going to fill a hole that big. In the second week of October, the NRSC’s independent expenditure arm put $6 million into the race.
“As soon as we did that, a race that could have been left for dead, you saw all the other outside groups do what we hoped they do, which was all of a sudden going to their donors, and filling a $2 million hole is a lot easier,” NRSC Executive Director Rob Collins said.
Bolding mine, in case you were about to get excited about Cal's fundraising lead over Tillis. It's nice, but the GOP has access to a seemingly bottomless pit of corporate cash. And they are not going to give up this seat without a knock-down, drag-out fight.