“The intent at this point is generally not to persuade undecided voters, but to catch the attention of leaning Republican or leaning Democratic voters and motivate them to head to the polls in cases where they might not be thinking about the election or planning to vote,” he said.
Dinan said the presence of a former president turns the election into a high-profile event, meant to maximize excitement among supporters and flood the news media. The tactic, he said, is more about fighting voter apathy and convincing any voters sitting on the fence.
“Who are the big-name national Democrats, exactly?” said Steven Greene, an N.C. State University political science professor. “If you don’t want to bring in the President, which (Hagan) obviously doesn’t, there’s not the same kind of people with the same kind of name recognition and general positive feeling (as Clinton).”
The statistical analysis website FiveThirtyEight recently calculated that Hagan has a 61 percent chance of winning, as she has held a consistent 3 to 4 percentage point lead over Tillis for several months.
Tom Jensen, director of Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling, said his firm’s data is more conflicted.
“We found the lead shifting back and forth between Hagan and Tillis from November to May,” Jensen said. “Most of the undecided voters that make up their minds are voting for Tillis.”
Sean Haugh is a Libertarian candidate in the race, and while only receiving around 5 percent support, he has had a speculated “spoiler effect” for Tillis, drawing support from normally Republican voters.
Public Policy Polling’s report suggests that this is likely not the case. When questioned on who their second choice would be, 30 percent of Haugh’s supporters answered Hagan, and 34 percent answered Tillis, meaning that Hagan is losing almost as much to Haugh as Tillis.
With undecided and independent voters mostly accounted for at this point, candidates can focus on exciting their bases. Greene said having Clinton make an appearance is the most logical choice for Hagan.
“Everybody knows that any major Democrat is going to support Hagan and any major Republican is going to support Tillis,” Greene said.
Clinton’s general popularity, as well as his strong and uncontroversial identity as a Democrat, make him the ideal endorsement, Greene said.
“It’s a lot easier to be popular when you’re a former president than a current president. He’s popular, and he probably excites the base almost as much as Obama does.”