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. Paula

    This North Carolian cannot wait for Dole to leave-she has been ineffective and a Bush Butt-kisser. Our state is struggling and going downhill!
    Her "Godless" ad is reprehensible and I am glad she didn't get my vote!!!!

    October 31, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  2. MN Voice

    Geez. Did she not notice this wasn't working for mccain? DST is giving them an extra hour to implode this weekend!

    October 31, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  3. Alabama Voter

    These Republicans will say anything to get a vote. How repugnant to bring Religion into the mix when apparently they have not read their Bible's lately. Read Proverbs 22:16 Nancy

    October 31, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  4. Free at last!


    October 31, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  5. Obamafied Cheesehead

    For those conservatives fighting or fearing change, I’ve news for you; the GOP brand is in shreds thanks to ………………….fill in the balnk. Currently the GOP brand is as worthless as the once popular “tickle me Elmo”. Obama has already replaced the so called “Reagan Democrats” that we’ve talked about for the last 20+ years with a new brand that we’ll all talk about for many years to come called “Obama Republicans”.

    October 31, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |

    Wow....Republicans are starting to look more and more like your everyday Bully...

    October 31, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  7. Sue

    Dole, you are a disgrace to Americans everywhere. Enjoy obscurity.

    October 31, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  8. Tony -- Nevada

    God help us if the democrats win the white house and more seats in the Senate. I am an Independent with moderate (and somewhat conservative) values and views and this country doesn't need to have an ultra liberal president and a democratically controlled congress. We need to have balance otherwise we will lean way too the left. America be careful what you asked for.

    October 31, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  9. Rogue Palin

    I am tired of the putrid hate coming out of bloggers like "SCOTT L" . You haven't said one thing true about Obama or McOldy!

    October 31, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  10. Texas Dad

    Don't count Dole out. The dull and the ignorant will believe anythhing, even the nasty and unchristian slop that Dole puts out. As long as you call yourself a christian, people will believe anything you say.

    October 31, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  11. tulsa

    Terrorists are alive and well in this country. Their name is REPUBLICAN.

    October 31, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  12. lisa m

    And from these lovely "Christian" Republicans we hear them making claims they know everyones "God" status.

    You know we got real tired of this. Go a head and call me "Godless", we know who we are and you just told us what you are.

    October 31, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  13. rick

    An interview on MSNBC just spoke the truth about the polls. They are not truthful. The phoce calls go to cell phones also and most phone calls go unanswered. The Iowa university professor said that most polls are not correct, but the media isnt telling everyone what the truth is. So this is another indication that the media is BIAS>>>>>>>>>>>>

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

    As a former Republican, I find it regrettable that the icon of the party is so intellectually tired (or lazy) that she resorts to mindless attack ads. The seat was hers if she had done what she was hired and paid well to do: show up sometimes. Realizing that there is a Western NC and considering having an office there might have changed things.
    This trend in the party is widespread. To think that one can substitute a sound bite, or a clever one-liner for preparation and hard work will not last long.
    It is important for all Americans to work, think, and prepare, just like a real plumber, not a silly character who cannot show up and then becomes indignant. It is vital that the Republicans return to the party of Eisenhower and Ford and forget this silly courtship with anti-intellectualism.

    October 31, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  15. SoCal

    Change is coming!

    October 31, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. Paul


    October 31, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. Barret Graf

    Interesting how Dole's ad will actually end up hurting only herself. Oops!!

    October 31, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  18. ralph tyler

    Congress seems to be full of very selfish and corrupt people.

    What if it were true that Senator Dole's opponent didn't believe in Jesus. Jesus would not believe in Ms. Dole's Jesus.

    Senator Dole should be booted out.

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

    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 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  20. Sara

    Eric October 31st, 2008 1:14 pm ET
    "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?"

    I agree wholeheartedly with Eric. As an atheist, I'm extremely offended by Elizabeth Dole's implication that to be seen with an atheist is akin to being a terrorist or something.... but at the same time, Kay Hagan's response showed she was angry for the wrong reasons.. angry for being called Godless, instead of angry that Dole was bringing it up as a negative reason at all.

    People are saying it's historic for a black man to be president, but will we EVER have an atheist president? Unfortunately I don't think so.. funny how there's religious freedom, supposedly, but no freedom for the non-religious.

    October 31, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. Jackson

    My Friend's = Send the skanky old cow to pasture with her "gimpy armed" hubby.They can both go back to work on the Dole "Chiquita's Banana" farm, don't they own it Cons?

    October 31, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  22. Former PUMA

    As a Carolinian, I honestly can't think of anything Dole has done for this state since she became a senator. This ad played on my tv, in my living room, in front of my kids. DISGUSTING!!! I will be so happy when Dole goes down in flames. The era of divisive politics has come to an end. I used to be a McCain fan, I voted for Dole in the last election. What happened to the once honorable McCain we all knew and loved? What happened to Dole, the proud wife of Bob Dole? This is a sad year in American history. Luckily we will have an inauguration and a fresh government to kick off the new year with a fresh start. This election reminds me of flushing the toilet. hit the lever, all the junk goes down the drain, and the fresh water comes in.

    October 31, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |

    Dole deserves to lose after that nasty ad she ran on TV calling her opponent Godless. I'm sick of the Republicans.

    October 31, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  24. Don from Birmingham

    Republicans have nothing to offer but mean, nasty, deceitful and devisive politics. I'm surprised Elizabeth Dole stooped to such a low level and succumbed to the Rovian strategy. The party deserves the tidal wave of defeat that will roll in on Tuesday.

    October 31, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  25. Rocio

    I think Elizabeth Dole should spend the next year after she looses this election, looking for a real good lawyer to sue the doctor that perform her terrible facelift. She looks like a complete diferent person.

    October 31, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
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