[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.
i pray and hope north carolina will go blue as much i do here in south carolina, from what i hear that mccain is losing grounds here! VOTE DEMOCRAT!!!
i have enough of this so called christian right wingers throwing dirt!! that is totally un-Christ like!!
OBAMA-BIDEN 08 & 12
Once again, you are a very small, angry little man.
Must be awful when the demons come at night.
Dole is a disgrace!
Please post this!!!
Republicans think that it's unamerican to be anything other than a Christian, unamerican to serve on a committee that helps american citizens, unamerican to pay higher taxes, unamerican if you're sitting at home jobless even though you just got laid off because of republican policies, unamerican to accept gov't help in the time of need. So unless your Christian, selfish, rich, never had gov't help, employed you are unamerican and unpatriotic by republican standards.
What is it with the old farts "72 saying nasty things? My grandmother is sweet and would never call someone Godless. First McCain, now Dole?
I used to like Liddy Dole. I even once wanted her to run for president. After the low-down, dishonest nature of the attack she made, though, those days are over. Disappointing. This is a season for disappointments, apparently... I used to admire John McCain, too.
Nice Botox!! Hey, except for fundraising, when was the last time you visited us in NC? What, you can't remember? That's what I thought.
This ad and many more that I've seen this year are why I will not vote for a Republican as long as I live. I have never seen so many nasty, despicable ads in a campaign, ever.
What's wrong with being a godless American? I'm one of them, I don't believe in god, does that qisqualify me from being an American, I THINK NOT! Go %-yourself liddy dole!
I hope the Republicans lose big time and the message goes out to all politicians that the American people are tired of hateful and divisive campaigns. As the gentleman from Canada said, we're starting to look like a country engaged in sectarian (verbal) warfare.
That 'Godless' ad that the Dole campaign chose to run was pathetic and a lie. Putting up Hagan's picture and having a voice that sounds like Hagan say "There is no God"...I'm not religious at all, but I know that Hagan is, I know that Dole knows that Hagan is, and this shows me (a not religious person) just how low Mrs Dole (like Senator McCain) has CHOSEN to stoop...they are both willing to lose their dignity to try to win an election. The Republican Party used to be a party of respect , even if you disagreed with them. They are not that any longer. They are a patheric party of liars.
You guys are doomed by an Obama win? How so?
America survived 8 years of moronic leadership under Bush. I think you guys will be a-ok with Obama for 8 years.
I am Steve the Canadian and I endorse Barack Obama!
Bye, Bye Dole and take that husband with you!
I would never vote for someone like Elizabeth Dole (R-North Carolina). She has become very unpatriotic and dishonest. She is part of the problem. I am hopeful her opponent will defeat her on 11/04/08 so her and Bob can live happily ever after.
Looks to me like she has aged and gained some pounds.
IS EVERYONE FINALLY STARTING TO RECOGNIZE THE DIVISION, HATE, AND HYPOCRICY OF THIS PARTY?!? THEY HAVE TRIED EVERYTHING IN THE BOOK TO MAKE YOU SCARED OF THIS BLACK GUY! HOW LONG SINCE McCAIN TALKED ABOUT ISSUES?!? "WE LOVE THE MILITARY AND IT'S MIGHT" THEY SAY, WHEN BLACKS, HISPANICS, AND LOWER INCOME WHITE FAMILIES STOCK THE ROLLS IN THE MILITARY. HOW DID THE REPUBS PULL THAT OFF?!? i GUESS THAT'S WHY IT'S SOOOOOO EASY FOR THEM TO SEND "THOSE KIDS" OFF TO WAR!
What is it with these old farts at age 72 saying nasty things? My grandmother is a sweet 81 year old and would never call someone Godless. First McCain, now Dole? YUCK! This election year is really nasty. It's time for the Republicans to get out of congress and the white house.
a hahahha, thats what you get for thinking you are gods choosen one!
get lost dole
Go KAY HAGAN!!!
After Mrs. Dole's "GODLESS" ad – I logged on and sent Kay Hagan a $10 donation. And Mrs Dole an email tell her why I'd support a candidate not in my state.
I'm sick and tired of half-truths and lies coming from Republicans, I use to have some respect for – McCain is another one. A once honorable man has sunk to such lows he's unrecognizable.
Dole should be ashamed. Just like her counterparts, she has resorted to lies and foolish attacks. MS Dole, it's time to hang it up and fade from the scene. You reputation is tarnished beyond repair just like your mentor G. Bush.
Dole deserves to lose. I already voted for Kay Hagan!!!
Obama/Biden the only real way to go 08
Dole deserves to lose after stooping to such a dishonest, immoral level in this election. It reminds me why I left the Republican Party. Sad.
I can't believe the depths to which American Politics has sunk. Does anyone remember Separation of Church and State? Elizabeth Dole has become a poster child for the worst kind of politics. Smear your opponent. Lie. Use Religion, which to some of us is sacred, as a weapon. Anything to get elected, eh, Liddy? I honestly have no idea how you look yourself in the mirror. You should be ashamed of yourself. If you don't have the intelligence to be ashamed, I will do it for you. We have become an international laughingstock. I look forward to your imminent and humiliating defeat at the hands of the Godless Kay Hagan. Funny, I don't think God will be stepping in to help you win. Maybe He's disgusted at what you've done in His name.
I am just wondering if a senator must believe in God? If yes, which God? What a pity Mrs. Dole had to get this low to compete.
Let's hope Senator Dole will join Carl Rove and other Republicans who use campaing tactics that are "way out of line"! Most Americans have Finally caught on! Maybe Senator Dole can secure a position on AM Talk Radio?
An Independent for Senator Obama!