NC-Sen: Kay Hagan to Take Down Elizabeth Dole

With all 100 counties in North Carolina having reported their primary results, State Senator Kay Hagan is the overwhelming choice of North Carolina Democrats to take on absentee Elizabeth Dole in November.  Hagan has taken over 60% of the primary vote, followed by businessman Jim Neal at 18% and Marcus Williams at 12.6%.Hagan is well-positioned to challenge Dole.  A Research 2000 poll from about a week ago commissioned by Daily Kos sees Dole leading Hagan by only a seven-point margin, 48-41.  Given that Dole is presumably at maximum name ID and that she rarely touches 50% in any approval poll (that isn’t commissioned by her campaign or her partisans), she has little room to grow.  On the other hand, Hagan is still expanding her name ID beyond her State Senate district.  And polling indicates that her paid media campaign is incredibly effective.  This won’t turn into a Tier 1 race overnight, but every indication is that this is a strong Tier 2 race with much potential.Hagan is a moderate, probably not progressive enough for the liking of some in the blogosphere.  But she is a proud Democrat.  Further, her effectiveness and competence as a legislator has won acclaim:

For a third consecutive term, The North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research (NCCPPR) today has named State Senator and U.S. Senate Candidate Kay Hagan (D-Guilford) as one of their top-10 most effective state senators.

I’ll also remind readers that among the netroots’ biggest victories are Southern moderates like Jim Webb of Virginia.  And I’m not the only one likening Hagan to Webb, as Real Clear Politics asks “Hagan The Next Webb?“:

Hagan has raised an impressive $1.52 million, much of which she has spent on making the primary with Neal a blowout. And trailing by just seven points in public polls is on par with Webb and others from the 2006 cycle; a Democratic poll taken in late June, 2006, showed Webb trailing Allen by a 46%-39% margin, and a Mason-Dixon poll in late July had Allen leading by a whopping 16 points. And Hagan’s campaign brags that only Missouri’s Claire McCaskill and Ohio’s Sherrod Brown have raised more money through the First Quarter of 2006.Beating Dole, a well-known incumbent, will be difficult. But Hagan starts out with relatively high name recognition — 44% view her favorably, while just 25% view her unfavorably and 31% have no opinion. Dole has the same 44% favorable rating, though 41% say they view her unfavorably, which could be a problem for the incumbent down the line. Barring any mistakes, Dole will remain the favorite heading into the fall. At the moment, though, Hagan looks poised to capitalize on any slip up, and there’s a long way to go before November.

Hagan is currently in better shape than Webb was at this point.  And Dole’s unfavorables are far higher than Hagan’s.  While Dole does enjoy a money advantage, a $3 million bankroll isn’t what it used to be, especially when the DSCC has a $20 milllion cash-on-hand advantage over the NRSC with which to aid Hagan’s bid.

In short, Dole is vulnerable.  Her disapproval is relatively high and her approval seems to have a ceiling in the mid-to-high 40s.  Meanwhile, Hagan’s messaging appears to be very effective, and she has a great deal of upside.  And it’s only a seven-point race with about six months until Election Day.

All Hagan needs is the resources to stay competitive.  To help on that front, State Senator Kay Hagan, the Democratic nominee for Senate in 2008 against Elizabeth Dole, has been added to the Expand the Map! ActBlue page.

Please consider a contribution to Hagan – it’s a step toward kicking Elizabeth Dole out of the Senate, and that should be reward enough.

Click here for the new senate guru blog…

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