The amount of political spending was so high that a conservative group — American Future Fund — spent $225,000 running ads trying to persuade young voters to support the Libertarian Haugh instead of Hagan.
Hagan had held a small, yet consistent, lead in polls throughout the campaign, but she was ultimately defeated, say political analysts, because of North Carolina voters’ dissatisfaction with President Barack Obama. Republicans also tend to turn out in higher numbers than Democrats for midterm elections.
Hagan conceded just before midnight on Election Day after losing an early lead and failing to regain ground.
“I will always be grateful for the trust you placed in me and for the chance to serve our great state,” she said in her concession speech. “You weren’t just standing with me. You were standing with working class families all across North Carolina. Those are the families that still need a voice.”
The campaign for Hagan’s seat has been running virtually nonstop since the start of 2014, as Hagan was targeted early by Republicans as a vulnerable Democratic incumbent senator. Thirteen candidates vied for their respective party nominations in the May primary elections.
Tillis had the most difficult contest, defeating seven challengers to secure the Republican candidacy. He received endorsements during the primary campaign from powerful Republicans including Burr, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell and former President George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove.
Democrats ended up losing eight Senate seats on Nov. 4, including in Colorado, Iowa and South Dakota. Sen. Mary Landrieu, Louisiana’s Democratic incumbent, is expected to lose a Dec. 6 runoff election against her Republican opponent, Bill Cassidy.
Tillis will join fellow North Carolina Republican Richard Burr in the Senate in January. Tillis has served in the state House of Representatives since 2006 and became speaker of the N.C. House after the 2010 election.