October 31st, 2008
02:07 PM ET
14 years ago

Democrats gaining ground in crucial Senate race

[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.

Filed under: Kay Hagan
soundoff (331 Responses)
  1. Richard

    It's time that the Republicans who gave Bush everything he has wanted for the last 8 years now answer for their lack of integrity.

    October 31, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  2. Santa Fean

    The Republican Party will really have to see if they want to continue to be the party of the past. Clearly being the party of fat, white, uneducated, bigoted, "christian", man is at an end. If they ever decide to be "Goldwater" Republicans who embrace small government, privacy, and protecting people from big business, they will see a future. More than likely they won't see the future and will continue with someone like Palin who represents the worst in Republicans! Will Obama bring Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich into the fold?

    October 31, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  3. Tired of the Lies

    I hope she gets smeared for using religion as a political weapon to inspire hate for her opponent. She certainly deserves it.

    Reagan never needed to resort to such Rovian tactics.

    October 31, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  4. bb

    A junior senator, who had only 142 days of experience in Senate when he declared his candidacy, who supported domestic terrorists and organizations like Acorn, declared 'socialism' through 'spreading the wealth around', supports infanticide and wants to have dinner with Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro is going to be the president of United Sates?

    Are you kidding?

    President Barack HUSSEIN Obama?

    If we have a brain in our head, vote McCain!

    October 31, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  5. david Armendale, SF, CA

    It will be interesting to see if it occurs to Republicans that one of the primary reasons they'll lose so badly in this election is due to the worst kind of nastiness and dishonesty they've resorted to. The use of Karl Rove tactics is SOOO last century. Part of the change Obama is about running an honorable Presidential campaign. Americans get that you can tell a lot about the man and his plans for the country by how he handles himself under fire. And the sorry Republicans have been firing away, but keep shooting themselves in the foot.

    October 31, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  6. Disgusted

    What a disappointment. I expect the negative reaction to Dole's ad will be profound, not just for her but for the entire Republican ticket.

    October 31, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. Tom in NC

    Dole's ad is simply the most unbelievable thing I have ever seen on television.
    My wife and I looked at each other in complete disbelief the first time we saw it.
    The sky looks Carolina Blue today, and I have a feeling it will be bluer on Tuesday.

    October 31, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  8. Karen

    Dole should be ashamed of herself. I am sick and tired of the Repubs acting like they have the corner of Faith. And by the way, why is it so many of them say one thing and do another?

    Haven't seen a lot of very Christian behaivor out of the Repub party lately – most specifically Dole and Palin....

    October 31, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  9. Katran Miller

    It's bizarre how several Republican candidates with bipartisan appeal (okay, two) have tarnished their images by stopping to incredibly low lies and smears. I thought of John McCain as an honorable, refreshing candidate in the 2000 election, but his conduct in this one has made me see a sour, divisive candidate who uses smears about the other guy rather than his own substance to win.

    And now Libby Dole does this! Good heavens! I didn't follow her that closely, but she seemed decent enough... until now! What a vile thing to do. I mean, good grief, when you're calling a Sunday School teacher godless... what would you do to, say, a Jew?

    October 31, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  10. Enlightened Voter

    I am so tired of the rethuglicans using their hate, lies, smears, attacks and divisiveness all in the name of GOD. They are typically the most unGodly people we know with their hearts wrapped in hate. It is disgusting.
    I am a PROUD Liberal!
    mccain/palin = clueless pathological liars!

    October 31, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  11. larrylegend

    After the DIRTY campaign lies and tricks she pulled, she ought to be sent packing back to Kansas. Many of us don't appreciate the kinds of lies candidate has told.

    October 31, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  12. ines

    Why is it that the Republicans are trashing their own seats and their party with all the lies, negativity, scandals, and ethics violations? The GOP is looking a lot like the Titanic in its last throes.

    October 31, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  13. Al Ram


    October 31, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  14. Sue T

    If we learned anything from this years elections, that the Republicans Can't run on issues........they proclaim they are the Religious Majority with great Values and such good Morales...........but the Republcans have now a few other things they can put claim too..........dishonesty, liers, gutter slinging trash throwers........

    October 31, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  15. Beverly, NYC

    What is it with the Republican candidates this year? It seems they like being in power so much that they will do or say anything to keep it, and their supporters are no better. Ashely Todd & Joe the plumber to name a few.

    October 31, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  16. Republican's Hear This...

    When I heard the "godless" comment, I sent the Hagan campaign $50.

    October 31, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  17. William

    Time for her to leave and she can take McBush with her as she leaves the building

    October 31, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  18. John Tate

    Too bad the story didn't mention Hagan is not only a Sunday school teacher, but also a church elder! The republican party has being taking advantage of evangelicals for years and they keep falling for the party's lies. Let's just hope they don't listen to more lies for supposed Christians that are denouncing true Christians. The republican party is so immoral but evangelicals keep falling for their lies.

    October 31, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  19. CeeJay

    My stomach can't take much more of the Republican nasties. God help America!

    October 31, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  20. Joe the Comment Leaver

    As soon as I read about this Dole ad, I knew that she would lose her bid for re-election. I have lost a lot of respect for Elizabeth Dole because of this.

    October 31, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  21. AM in VA

    Like the stock market we continue to see lower lows by the Republicans. The Doles should, hopefully, fade away into oblivion now (if we're lucky).

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 31, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  22. Jared

    I'm in Utah and I just donated $15. Go get em Kay! What Elizabeth Dole and her campaign did was inexcusable. GROW UP!

    October 31, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  23. Chut Pata

    Just went to KayHagan.com and donated to her, although I dont live in NC. I and my friends would donate to all victims of witch hunt.

    Say NO to witch hunt. Donate to Kay Hagan.

    October 31, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  24. Rcohelle

    I live in North Carolina and I wish that Dole had never been elected to the senate in the first place. She established residency in NC just to run for congress and has not done a thing to help this state or the people of this state. She started the nastiness with her mean spirited ads and I hope Hagan beats her by forty points.

    October 31, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  25. kaz

    She lost all the respect for her and for Bob Dole

    October 31, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
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