The N&R’s Doug Clark is quick to point out that Thom Tillis’ 48.87 of the vote is the lowest in state history, undercutting John East’s 1980 victory over incumbent Sen. Robert Morgan.

A commenter adds “conservatives who think Tillis shows a mandate for GOP policies in North Carolina are kidding themselves.”

And yes, as Clark points out, Tillis’s victory margin was minus the state’s urban counties–the only major city he won was Wilmington and that by a razor-thin 60 votes.

But take a look at the big picture. JLF president John Hood draws it:

Not only did Hagan lose, but most of the candidates they put up in competitive legislative races fell short. Republicans actually expanded their majority in the North Carolina Senate and lost a net of just three seats in the North Carolina House. Conservatives also defeated sales-tax increases on the ballot in several counties, including populous Mecklenburg and Guilford. Only the Democrats’ takeover of the county commission in Wake County, the second-most-populous in the state, brightened what was an otherwise dismal disappointment for a party that, until just six years ago, seemed firmly ensconced as North Carolina’s governing majority.

The other exception of course is the approval of five bonds in Winston-Salem. But note Republicans in Forsyth County held onto the school board, with “cuts” to education being a big issue in the Senate race.

It will be an interesting two years, both at the national and state level.