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. JJ

    I'm glad Libby is losing.. She needs to lose in a landslide right along with Bachmann and McCain. UGH! Get this people out of office!

    October 31, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  2. Greg in MN

    We should send both Dole and Michelle Bachmann some place where they can fear-monger and scare each other all they want...but we shouldn't send them back to Washington DC!!!!

    October 31, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    AFTER THE ELECTION, WE NEED TO ENSURE A MOVEMENT BEGINS TO ELIMINATE DISTORTIONS, LIES, HATE, AND DIVISION. After elections we are left with a populace divided, with no trust of the newly elected officials, and convinced the "godless", "socialist" or "baby killer" won. In a recent experience, an executive said in a meeting (first hand info) "Barak will ruin my family. I hope someone shoots him." Anyone who perpetuates this division and namecalling, especially when wrong, has to be crushed at the polls to ensure they do not come back. And we need to ensure this type of behavior is totally discounted and that there are consequences.

    October 31, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  4. RJ

    It's sad that this anti-reason commercial will affect so many voters, and that Hagan is responding not by calling out the hatefulness of Dole's rhetoric, but to run to god and suggest that being called an atheist is slanderous. Not believing in fairy tales should count for a candidate, not against. It's clear that voting America would rather have its outdated views coddled than have the courage to challenge its own beliefs. Science and atheism are rational tenets upon which to govern. Contradictory words in an ancient book are not.

    October 31, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  5. Jane T.

    The ad untruthfully suggests that Hagan is an atheist, and she is not. But I'm left with the same question that Colin Powell asked: What if she were an atheist? Where it is written that atheists can't run for public office? As a follower of Jesus, I am compelled to love others and give an answer for the hope that I have with gentleness and respect. As an American, I am committed to the First Amendment, which prohibits the establishment of a religion. I and millions of others can embrace both commitments simultaneously.

    Too bad Elizabeth Dole appears to be unwilling or unable to do the same.

    October 31, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  6. Pat in IL

    The Republicans are in serious need of figuring out what their platforms and issues really are. The lobbiests and special interests have been doing that for them for too many years. The proof of their need for definition is the fact that all they can come up with in their campaigning is lying dirt dished out about their opponents. Where is their statesmanship? Where is their shame? I would be humiliated to lie and dish out dirt like they do. Most people are better people than that, and if they don't have anything real to say, they keep their mouths shut.

    October 31, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  7. JL

    Good deal! I hope the fear-mongering, fake-christian, republicans learn a lesson from all of this! Jesus would have never stood for the negativity coming from the McCain campaign or the Dole campaign.

    October 31, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  8. NCimplant

    I live just 20 miles from Sen. Dole's home town. You couldn't pay me to vote for Elizabeth Dole. She's done very little for the state, and has lived in George Bush's back pocket for the last 8 years. . Her most recent campaign commercial 'Godless' is absolutely disgusting and full of lies, much like McCain's and Palin's ads. She should be ashamed.

    Obama/Biden... and Kay Hagan... in '08'

    October 31, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  9. Hillary told me to vote for Obama!

    After seeing the ad, I donated $5 to Kay Hagan and I suggest you do the same. I know $5 isn't much but it's all I can afford right now. Good luck on Tuesday Kay! The nation will be watching!

    October 31, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  10. rob

    this evil old lady has had one bad face lift–you could bounce a penny of that face-lol

    October 31, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  11. JJ

    Go Democrats Go Democrats. We need this race for the White House with a good victory. Vote Democratic.

    October 31, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  12. Karen - Missouri

    Just like McCain, Dole is another old fogy who needs to retire. The old days of being a nasty politican should be OVER!

    October 31, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  13. sally

    There are probably millions of godless Americans. Tax paying, law abiding godless Americans entitled to representation. There is no law prohibiting them from donating to campaigns that I know of, and no law against a candidate accepting them. It's called separation of church and state. And it's a fundamental aspect of our government. We need to all work very hard to see that it stays that way. VOTE America!

    October 31, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  14. A Real American

    In a campaign season chock full of Republican low blows– all of them fruitless– this was perhaps the most vile. I honestly don't understand how anyone except the very wealthy has the nerve to continue to support the GOP's bankrupt political beliefs after the last eight years.

    9/11, Katrina, the bungled wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the subprime loan crisis, the banking industry meltdown, and now the bailout that was supposed to loosen the credit market but is instead being hoarded by the very institutions that whined so hard to get them. All products of the Republican Party and it's necrotic philosophy.

    Good Lord, how often do you folks need to hit yourselves in the head with a hammer to know it hurts? We've had eight years of this tragic clown act and you want to come back for more? Please, Republicans, do the rest of the nation a favor for once and put country before party and stay home on Election Day.

    October 31, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  15. ep

    'Goodbye Elizabeth'...Your dirty tricks are working as well as McCains.

    October 31, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    I was utterly digusted by this 'godless' ad put out by Elizabeth Dole. How dare she use God as a tool to advance her political agenda. Does this make our men and women who serve to protect our country less of an American hero if they didn't believe in God?

    I'm not from North Carolina but i've donated to the Kay Hagan campaign after seeing this disgusting ad.

    October 31, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  17. Independent Voter

    When people make insane comments like Dole or th nutcase Congresswoman in Minnisota. The people recognize that these folks do not deserve to be in office. So I'm glad to see their true colors come out. This way the people will notice to never vote for them again.

    October 31, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  18. Mason Russ

    You reap what you sow....8 years of hate will result in big wins for the dems on Tuesday and when the repubs wonder how this happened, tell them to look in the mirror.....and cringe

    October 31, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  19. Patty in NC

    I voted for Hagan!

    October 31, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  20. ChrisB

    The commercial that the Dole camp released is despicable. I thought Republican candidates in general (there's a nasty senatorial race going on right now in Maryland) had sunk low enough, with their constant use of the term "liberal" like it's a racial epithet. But this one takes the cake, icing, sprinkles, and all. If Mrs. Dole loses, she deserves it.

    I could have sworn that McAint's poll standings improved somewhat when he momentarily focused on the issues (i.e. the economy). But when he went back to trashing his opponent again, it was just more of the same, and the polls reflected it. He's reaching at this point; he's done. I for one believe that outcome will be better for America.

    October 31, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  21. thomas

    And so the wicked witch of the east shouted, "I'll get you, Kay Hagan, you atheist and you're little socialist too" when suddenly the skies opened up and the sea parted, washing the evil witch away.

    October 31, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  22. Claire

    1. It's below the belt to question someone's religious beliefs, shame on you Dole.
    2. Even people who don't believe in God deserve to be heard, this is AMERICA, shame on you Dole.
    3. Spend more than 33 days in NC and maybe you could hold your seat, Mrs. Dole.

    October 31, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  23. Joe in MN

    Dole is an ignoramus. And a poor Christian.

    October 31, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  24. Kate

    I would never in a million years have expected this from Elizabeth Dole. What on earth is possessing these people to act like this? They have lost all sense of decency. We would never allow this sort of behavior from our children. Why are we tolerating it from our leaders?

    October 31, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |

    I pray that Mrs. Hagan gets the position because Mrs. Dole has gotten very divisive and nasty with her campaign and she is telling lies left and right. Go Hagan

    October 31, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
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