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. Steve

    For the life of me, I cannot figure out why these Republican candidates like Dole think they can make these appalling accusations that are completely untrue, and not have a negative reaction from the voters. We are completely tired of negative campaigns. We are appalled by the lying and distortions. We are going to throw the bums out. Mrs. Dole, when you're sitting at home, after you've lost, why not drop a call to Karl Rove, and thank him for teaching you how to be a slime ball. Congratulate him on his effective and thoughtful tactics. You're old school, Dole, and school is about to be let out. Buh bye now....

    October 31, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. Tell the TRUTH just once McWar /Phailling

    Cnn another day this is a Republican all republican sdite even repeats of republivans what is going on is tyhe woprd biased ?

    October 31, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  3. bruce

    Libby Dole should be ashamed of herself for the misleading ad she ran acussing dems of being "god less" and then using someone who sounds like her opponent at the end.
    It is time that the repubs be thrown out...all they know how to do is sling mud, lie and line thier own pockets....throw the bums out.

    October 31, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  4. Jeff, Oregon

    As a Christian (Catholic actually), I am horrified whenever someone tries to use religion as a club for political gain. My personal belief is that Christ would never support this kind of behavior, but even setting that aside, the very nature of Dole's ad puts human being against human being.

    So what if Hagan was an atheist? I may be a faithful person, but faith is personal, and in no way impacts a person's ability to do good works as an elected public servant.

    Dole should be ashamed of putting forth such an ad, and voters should be using their votes to show America that such tactics are not acceptable. You should vote based on the policies of the candidate, and whether you agree or disagree. It should never be based on fear and other negative campaign tactics.

    October 31, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  5. David Goldman



    October 31, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  6. Amy

    The fact that Dole was lying in her ad is reprehensible.

    But the bigger question for me is- Isn't the job of our elected officials to represent ALL Americans, not just the right-wing-religious-conservatives? Is Dole saying atheists don't deserve rights? How about gays? Jews? Muslims?

    The entire Republican party is traveling down a dark, scary path. Anyone who truly cares about our country should not follow them!

    October 31, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  7. Erik from Real PA

    The Dole attack ad was based "on Hagan's attendance at a fundraiser in the home of an advisor to the Godless Americans' political action committee." What is this, Six Degrees of Smear-a-ration? What a ludicrous stretch. Let's hope Senator Dole, once a well-respected legislator, loses the race.

    October 31, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  8. Schneider (I) - CA

    To the undecided voters:

    If you like war, the draft, belligerent foreign policies and divisive politics, vote for McCain

    If not, vote for Obama

    If you are still not sure, vote for Nader.

    October 31, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  9. Chris

    "Godless"? What the heck? Is Dole getting out of it also?

    October 31, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  10. sandee in Portland

    What a shame. I liked Bob Dole, but what has happened to his wife. She has obviously gone the way of the rest of the far, right wing conservative christians of the republican party with outright lying and fear tactics.

    As a moderate republican I am thoroughly disenchanted with my party and will be changing to an independent after this election. The republicans are still running their campaigns like 20 years ago. We used to be the fiscally conservative party and the democrats were the tax and spend party. This has reversed almost completely since Bush was elected. If the republicans have any hope of surviving in the 21st century, they need to change their platform.

    October 31, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  11. Kathy

    First she ruined the Red Cross and now the country! You GOP must be so verrrrry proud.

    She is the worst the country has.

    October 31, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |

    Senator McCain you are no hero, you are in fact a terrorist.

    Your campaign advisor & "Transition Chief" William Timmons was a Saddam Hussein lobbyist for 5 years.
    You pal around with Gordon Liddy, domestic terrorist.
    You are a member of "The Project for a New American Century" – a radical extremist terrorist organization.
    Your VP candidate's husband Todd Palin is a domestic terrorist in the Alaskan Independence Party.
    You accuse Obama of knowing Rashid Khalidi, yet you yourself have given Rashid Khalidi & the PLO $500,000.00!!! So by your logic, if Obama is a terrorist sympathizer like you claim, then you Senator McCain are a state sponsor of terrorism. You are, by your own twisted logic, a terrorist by your own admittance.
    You have met with Chilean Dictator Pinochet, a terrorist.
    You're coordinated effort to use FOX NEWS, the Bush Administration, your campaign, Sarah Palin, and The Justice Department to commit voter fraud, voter intimidation, & voter suppression is an act of terrorism.

    John McCain you are a disgrace to your uniform, yourself, & to your country.

    October 31, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  13. Randy

    Send the old cow Liddy Dole out to pasture. Go Hagen Go!

    October 31, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  14. GARY

    Worst mistake this country needs a this time is Obama being elected.This is the time we need someone that has been tested and knows how to keep us safe. Mccain is the only canidate that can do that job. Mccain's economy deal is even better than the chicago player Obama. Our country does not need a arrogant greenhorn trying to run our country in time of war and maybe more wars.We will be attacked if Obama gets elected.We will be doomed.

    October 31, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  15. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    Liddy has been on the dole too long. Lining her own pockets and doing nothing for NC.

    I sure hope McCain loses. That will teach him for being part of Keating 5 that started all the deregulation – maybe he'll think before he makes any more propaganda tapes AGAINST the US. Maybe he will even retire and quit dividing our nation. GO AWAY McWarmonger. NO NO NO to Iran and the draft. NO NO NO – and quit donating to Kahlidi – you traitor.

    Voted early for Obama/Biden – the Constitutional Guys

    October 31, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  16. karen-phoenix

    I am a registered republican in AZ and I am soooo disgusted and ashamed of the republican party because I have been getting robo calls the last 2 days that are viel!!!! What happened to my republican party????? After this is over the republican party better start changing or they are loosing everyone in this country with the exception of the radical right wing and skinheads and extremely wealthy!!!
    God Bless Obama/Biden

    October 31, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  17. Dana Knight

    Dole is just another nut job...I am so tired of religion being thrown into politics...it's hippicritical!! Dole reminds me of an older version of Palin...no brains.

    October 31, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  18. Thomas, Illinois

    Good...With Obama as President and a 60 seat Senate, we can finally get something done for the U.S.A....Instead of Bush Vetoing every bill that comes across his desk that the Dems sponser....

    October 31, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  19. LGH

    Mrs. Dole recent and untrue ad about Mrs. Kay Hagan has done her in. I stay in North Carolina and Mrs. Dole really stooped to an all time low when she started questioning Mrs. Hagen stand on God and Faith. She really should be ashamed of herself and apologize.My vote will be for Mrs. Hagan now.

    October 31, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  20. peggy

    After that last ad,she does not deserve to win !How can the republicans live whith themselves!

    October 31, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  21. Josh, Charlotte, NC

    Elizabeth Dole is a crook who needs to be sent back to Kansas to live with her husband...WE DON'T WANT HER HERE IN NORTH CAROLINA! She's proven that she is worthless to the needs of North Carolinians, and this new ad that she has put out, suggesting Kay Hagan is "godless," is DOWNRIGHT DIRTY!

    October 31, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  22. tulsa

    Shame on Senator Dole for this ugly and immoral advertising.
    We the people need to condemn this kind of politics with a resounding vote to clear the congress of people who use tactics like this.
    Republican or Democrat, we cannot tolerate the politics of division and lies.
    Send the message loud and clear that the days of campaigns run on fear and smear are over.

    October 31, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  23. OBAMA/BIDEN 08

    Someone with common sense should realize divisive politics does not work!

    October 31, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  24. Mohammed

    I dont live in NC, but WOW that ad was extremely shocking. The rebuttal was really effective I thought. Anyways, whats with charging people if they believe in god or not, and why does that matter ? I believe in god, but If an Atheist or Agnustic is doing their job and I like their policies, I'll vote for them. Just because you dont believe in god doesnt mean you dont have peoples best interest at heart. And sense when do religiouse people have a monopoly on good government, or policy? The things people do to hold on to power

    October 31, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  25. America demands answers

    What esle do u expect from despirate people who would use or say anything including breaking the commandments of God for political gains. Thou shall not call the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

    October 31, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
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