First, some context about this post: I live in Upstate South Carolina, less than 20 miles from downtown Charlotte, NC. I’m also an avid Jeopardy watcher.

Why is this important you ask? Well, ever since NC House Speaker Thom Tillis won the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate race in June, there have been non-stop television ads… on behalf of his opponent, incumbent Kay Hagan. If you think Alex Trebek can be annoying, combine that with wall-to-wall negative ads paid for by Harry Reid’s SuperPAC designed to “Romney” (verb) Thom Tillis.

My conventional wisdom and experience by the end of June told me that Harry Reid didn’t really need to win North Carolina anyway for him to stay Senate Majority Leader. I figured the post-June Hagan TV blitz in the relatively expensive Charlotte TV market was a test. I figured Hagan was doing well and Reid, along with other liberal groups, would have to move money out of NC to other places. I figured Kay Hagan was a “buffer” but when push came to shove the North Carolina seat was expendable for Reid and Democrats. And finally, I had convinced myself that the Romney-ing of Tillis had worked. Hagan’s numbers were climbing and I thought that Tillis had lost the summer and perhaps the whole election.

Boy, did I figure wrong.

In its biggest expenditure this election cycle, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Wednesday launched a $9.1 million TV blitz in North Carolina attacking Republican Thom Tillis.

The ad buy, the largest so far in North Carolina, would be paid out through the end of the campaign. It reflects both the outside interest in a race that will help decide control of the Senate and, some say, concern about Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan.

“It tells me a couple things,” said Jennifer Duffy, an analyst with the Washington-based Cook Political Report. “One, that she really is in trouble. They’re not going to spend that kind of money defending an incumbent who’s in reasonably good shape.

“Two, they’re going to do the negative ads because I don’t think her approval ratings can take any more hits.”

Four polls on the Senate race have come out in the past month and it seems Tillis survived the summer after all. The Real Clear Politics average has Tillis up slightly, but more importantly, Hagan is under 45% re-elect in all but one of the surveys.

In fact, as the result of their own tracking polls, last week Rasmussen moved the North Carolina race from Toss-Up to Leans Republican. Hagan only received 40% in their poll done in early August. One of the drivers of the race in North Carolina: Obamacare.

Thirty-nine percent (39%) of North Carolina voters have a favorable opinion of that law, while 56% view it unfavorably.

It seems clear now that not only is Hagan in trouble. Reid and the Democratic Senate Senatorial Campaign Committee have hit the panic button and are doing a money drop to save Hagan. The big question now…. how much money will they sacrifice if she truly is a lost cause for re-election?