Hagan is running this time without the benefit of Obama’s campaign but with the foundation he left behind. Her path to reelection will depend on her ability to do better among white voters than Obama — Romney won 68 percent of North Carolina whites in 2012 — and to try to keep the African American share of the electorate — exit polls say 23 percent, the Census Bureau says 26 percent — as close to 2012 levels as possible.
She must also capitalize on the split between longtime residents, who are solidly Republican, and recent arrivals. About 60 percent of those who had migrated to North Carolina in the previous decade backed Obama in 2012, Guillory said.
Hagan plans to run against the Republican-led legislature, which has supported several conservative pieces of legislation that sparked protests. The legislature’s actions will play an even more prominent role in the campaign if her GOP challenger turns out to be Thom Tillis, the speaker of the state House, who leads a crowded Republican primary field.
Hagan’s campaign is trying to build the capacity it will need later to identify, register, motivate and turn out supporters. The campaign is hiring and training the first of its field organizers, who will begin to recruit volunteers, who will in turn carry out voter registration efforts and do much of the door-to-door contact with targeted voters.