[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/31/elizabeth-dole.jpg caption="Dole's chances of holding onto her Senate seat look precarious."]
(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.
This is my hometown and I have always been proud of NC, please let me continue to speak proudly. Go Ms. Hagen GO!
I think the whole country is going BLUE! Thanks for the help Liz, you idiot
Elizabeth, this is payback for that despicable ad that you have been running. It always amazes me how people can be such vile human beings, and still consider themselves "Christian". Hypocrite
Atheists are citizens in our country...the country that has a Constitutional protection of Freedom of Religion.
The Republican party has reached a new low this year, a low even lower than in 2004. Amazing!
You know, the Nazis also went after the atheists, homosexuals & "elite"/free thinkers.
Of course my preference was for the Democrat in NC but after seeing the Dole ad, I think getting rid of Dole is a must. This kind of dirty sleaze cannot be rewarded. You let it go this time, it just gets dirtier the next time.
Scott L–Give it up already. Last week you were ranting that CNN would not follow up on the McCain worker being "attacked" in Pittsburgh. We no longer need your right wing agenda. The people are speaking and early voting is 2 to 1 Democrat in NC.
Uh-Ummm...Don't we have a constitutional separation of church and state? Don't we have freedom of religion? Are there religious requirements for those who seek public office? The conservative, Bible Thumping fundamentals have ruled long enough...we've got to take back our freedoms by voting Liddy and others like her out (I only WISH it were Lindsey Graham in SC!!!)
Even inside Obama's campaign, some of his people already feel that everything is just about Obama. With over $600 millions raised for the Democratic campaign, Obama has not given any to help out with campaigning at Congress or Senate level or even help out with Clinton's debt. All money has been poured into Obama's image. $600 millions!!!
The most liberal and egotistic candidate ever. You don't help the people sitting in the wagon by screwing the one pulling it. After hours of pulling the wagon, when refreshment comes, the people sitting in the wagon get it first. What a deal.
America, please vote rationally, not emotionally. The whole world envy the US. We have become the greatest nation because of our free entrepreneurial spirit, not big government control as in other nations.
"Thou Shall Reap-eth What Thou Sew-eth" Elizabeth Dole..... Your Bible should have taught you that!
CLEAN THE HOUSE!!! REPUBLICANS ARE A VICIOUS AND RUTHLESS BREED OF PEOPLE!
SHAME ON ELIZABETH DOLE! So what if your opponent is an atheist? That doesn't make her a bad person. There are millions of atheists in the United States who are decent, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens. Look at all the politicians "of faith" who have committed crimes or acted unethically. Sen. Dole's hateful ad is another example of the desperation of the Republicans. They have zero record to run on both nationally and state-wide. They choose to stoop to name-calling and hate speech to fight their losing battle.
Elizabeth Dole is a hideous woman.
Registered Republican "voted" Democrats.
Lizzy Dole is no Christian if she airs trash like that. I am disgusted that she allowed her campaign to place winning above being honorable. I hope Ms Dole learns a lesson after her opponent gets flooded with donations as this is the kind of thing that turns good and honest Republicans against their party and drives them to the other side, as they did with me.
Elizabeth, due to this one single, low-life ad, you deserve to lose. I hope you don't mind that you tarnished the Dole name.
Ms. Dole is reaping the benefits of calling her opponent "Godless.: It's time these types of outrageous remarks be rewarded by the EXIT door.
Ohhhhhhhhhhh good one BULLDOG! Excellent way to point out the ludicrous position of the Republican party.
Introducing( drum roll) the three pumpkin heads for halloween SarahPalin, John McCain and Cindy McShame McCain. Happy halloween to all of the Witches. Go away and never come back na ya hear, He Haw!! Palin, dick, cain and Cin want a bud, all of you must be drunk.
Win Obama Win 08........................................................................
Elizabeth Dole shows her character in this ad when she says she approved the message.....if she's willing to go to this place with an ad, imagine where she is willing to go once in office?
Long live negative campaigning. McCain did not learn from Hillary, and Mrs. Dole does not seem to learn from McCain. Go Republicans (down the drain).
For the life of me I cannot understand why a person would lower themself to this level for 6 years of Senate vote casting. Is her life outside the Senate that boring or terrible that she just cannot face losing her seat? And to go down in history as such a creep (McCarty, anyone?)! Her husband must be horrified at what the Dole name has become.
You left wingers are seriously insane.. all of you..i am seriously considering changing party affiliation to Independant after ive seen and read the vile hatred that has come out of all your mouths. I hope Obama loses..if not we are all screwed big time...
Some how we the American people need to make sure that the Democrats do not obtain the 60 seats. If we end up having a Democrat President and a 60 seat Democrat senate, then the American people are the losers. There will be no "Checks and Balances"
Guess what - in AMERICA it is my right to believe or not in whatever there is or isn't in the way of a God. Send money to Hagan. She only supported my rights.
Leave it to the Republicans to use a false god as a lever.
My opponent is.... a WITCH!
The Republicans are making this the scariest Halloween in years!
Support Kay Hagan (www.kayhagan.com) and tell Dole to go away.