(CNN) - If the Democrats reach their goal of capturing 60 seats in the Senate, North Carolina may be a major reason why.
Freshman Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole is trailing her Democratic opponent, Kay Hagan, by nine points, 53 percent to 44 percent, a new CNN/Time/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Friday suggests. Hagan had a smaller lead in other recent polls in North Carolina.
An already bitter contest turned uglier this week, when an ad by Dole's campaign suggested Hagan was "godless." The Dole campaign says it based its charge on Hagan's attendance at a fundraiser in the home of an advisor to the Godless Americans' political action committee, a group that promotes rights for atheists.
Hagan, a state senator from Greensboro, returned fire, saying she was "absolutely appalled" by the ad, calling it "politics of the worst kind." She also filed a lawsuit to prevent the ad from running.
The poll in North Carolina was conducted before Dole's campaign commercial began airing.
Other factors - such as Dole's age - may favor the challenger, CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.
"Dole's age has been an undercurent in this race, and our poll shows that she is winning among older voters by six points," he said. "But Hagan has a 13-point edge among voters under the age of 50, and that seems to be one major reason why Dole appears to be in trouble."
Dole is 72.
The Democrats' goal is to capture 60 seats in the Senate. That's the number of votes needed to break a filibuster, a move used in the Senate by the minority party to stall and defeat legislation.
The Democrats currently control 49 seats in the Senate. The chamber's two independents, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, are allied with the Democrats, giving the party a narrow 51-to-49 advantage and control of the Senate.
Another state the Democrats are targeting is Colorado, where the incumbent Republican Senator, Wayne Allard, is retiring.
The new poll suggests that the Democratic candidate, Mark Udall, holds a 10-point lead, 53 percent to 43 percent, over his Republican rival, Bob Schaffer.
Virginia is another state where the incumbent Republican Senator, John Warner, is retiring. Two former governors, Democrat Mark Warner (no relation to John) and Republican James Gilmore, are fighting for the seat. But the new poll suggests the this race is far from even. The survey indicates Warner holds a 28-point lead, 63 percent to 35 percent, over Gilmore.
Georgia is another state, like North Carolina, where the incumbent freshman Republican Senator, Saxby Chambliss, is fighting for his political life.
But the poll suggests he's faring much better than Elizabeth Dole. Chambliss holds a 9-point lead in the survey, 53 percent to 44 percent, over Jim Martin, his Democratic opponent.
The CNN/Time/Opinion Research Corporation surveys were conducted October 23-28, with 667 likely voters in North Carolina, 774 likely voters in Colorado, 721 likely voters in Virginia, and 690 likely voters in Georgia questioned by telephone.
The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points in Colorado, Georgia and Virginia and plus or minus 4 percentage points in North Carolina.
Good riddance!! Another one that does not have any policies or plans only attack and smear. Hopefully one of many to lose their seats.
Among the different joys brought to you by this election, the disappearance of this divisive and hateful woman from the national scene is certainly one of the finest.
Considering the lies/slander/distortions etc. coming out of the mouths of the Republicans I would think that it is joke that they would still consider themselves 'Christians' As a Catholic, I was taught it is a SIN to LIE. Someone needs to clue in those fundamentalists in Kentucky that McCain and Palin more closely resemble the "anti-Christ" and not Senator Obama. I voted for honesty, moral integrity, intelligence, judgement ... I voted for Obama!
Dole lost my vote. I'm tired of all the nasty ads.
Dole, you are just like your husband, a loser....
Like President Obama said on Maddow....there are a small subset of Republicans....McCain, Bush, Cheney, Rove etc. who have kidnapped the Republican party....it's not that all Republicans are bad! This woman Dole is one of the McCainBushlike kidnappers......I hope America votes them ALL out of office on Nov. 4th!
More rethuglican hate. Had enough yet America? These people are not true Americans, are not patriotic, and are not trying to help the country in any way. Elizabeth Dole has joined the terrorist within.
Senator Dole sickens me! It's that simple! This is by far the worst direct attack I've seen.
Wall Street workers have given $8 million more to the Democrats than to Republicans during this election year. Sorry Liberals, you can no longer claim that Wall Street is a Republican entity. Losers
Please take Lindsey Graham with you.
Dole's latest ad attacking Hagan for accepting money from the Godless America PAC is appalling. Reminds me of the Helms' ad in the first Gantt-Helms Senate contest the weekend before that election, with the rejection letter from an employer, and the voice over about giving the job to someone less qualified, and the letter being crumpled by white hands. I'm ashamed by my elected representatives.
Good for Kay Hagan. This Christian has had enough of religion being used as a club in every election. True Christians don't have to beat you over the head with with it,
5 thumbs down for Elizabeth Dole. Campaigning her opponent as "Godless" is straight out of the sewer. Shame on you Mrs. Dole.
God bless the USA–the mcarthy hate machine will take it's bushes and go back to the indian reservation.
I hope this is the end of her too. When I see the last backside of the last Dole leaving, it will be an added bonus.
Out with the Dole and in with the new.
Lizzie Dole needs to loose just for the Godless ad. Go Kay!
Dole is a sack of vomit. That "godless" ad brings bile into the back of my throat every time I hear about it.
Uh.... "Clinton Supporter" in case you haven't noticed, Senator Clinton and President Clinton both are out campaigning for Barack Obama. If you truly were a supporter as you indicate in you name, you'd be running to the poll to vote for Obama. Think you should change your moniker to "Bigot." Thanks and have a nice day
I heard Dole commercial this morning. She actually had someone impersonate Hagan saying 'There is no god."
Liddy Dole, another "Out of Touch" Republican.
Go Kay Hagan!!! If I could vote for you I would.
I cannot believe how arrogant and idiotic the Republican candidates are acting in all races. The "pro-American parts" comments and this over-the-top false innuendo on religion is despicable. It seems like the Republicans are self-exploding and are toppling each other down like a row of dominos. Thank you Mrs. Palin for getting the first domino going!!
Anyone else think McCain and Palin could be closet Democrats successfully tearing down the Republican party?!?
When did it become a crime to not believe in a deity. I think it is a shame that Hagan has to be offended about be linked to an atheist organization. It just goes to show that this country still has some very backward tendencies where to be linked to atheist is somehow supposed to be considered a dis qualifier for public office. Frankly, I am fed-up with the whole "gotta be a Xian" approach to politics. When are Xians going to just shut-up about their Jesus?
Whatever happened to the party of Dwight Eisenhower, Everett Dirksen, and yes, even Barry Goldwater? How did they let themselves get hijacked by right-wing wackjobs and evangelical nutcases? There's a good chance the GOP is going to be decimated this election. And although I'm no great friend of the Democratic Party, I'll be glad to see the Republicans disappear forever.
This is the time to give third-party candidates a voice. We need a true opposition party in this country. (A role the Democrats have shamelessly abrogated).
Vote for Ralph Nader!
These geezus freaks like Dole are what's wrong with American politics and America as a whole.
Wake up "Christian" America – The neocons are only using you for their power grab!