JLF head John Hood’s column today focuses on the importance of region in North Carolina elections. The first four paragraphs:

If Republican Thom Tillis were running for the U.S. Senate from the state of North Piedmont, he’d be clearly favored to defeat incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan. Alternatively, if Hagan represented the state of Trianglia, she’d be such a shoo-in that we’d all lose interest in the race.

No, I’m not pining for a breakup of my native state (if back in the land of my ancestors, I’d have voted to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom). I’m delighted that North Carolina encompasses diverse communities. Indeed, to understand our state’s politics in the 21st century is to recognize that differences in history, economics, and demographics produce marked differences in political preference.

Two recent statewide polls, one by left-leaning Public Policy Polling and the other commissioned by the right-leaning Civitas Institute, demonstrate the effect. For starters, their topline results are similar. PPP has Hagan leading Tillis by 4 points in the Senate race, with Republicans (44 percent) and Democrats (43 percent) roughly tied in statewide preference for state legislature. Civitas puts Hagan’s lead at 3 points and has the GOP slightly leading Democrats statewide in a comparable question about down-ballot races.

When you drill down into the results by region, a fascinating pattern emerges. Among voters in the 919 area code, roughly corresponding to the Triangle area, Hagan has a double-digit lead in both surveys. In the Piedmont Triad (336 area code), the Charlotte region (704 area code), southeastern counties (910), and the coastal plain (252), Tillis had a double-digit lead over Hagan. In the western mountains (828), the race is close.

You can read the rest of John ’s column here.