Posted By: Stonecipher
Oct. 16, 2008
Will the Democrats do it? Will they reach the magic, veto-proof number of 60 seats in The Senate?
Between now and Election Day, we here at The Stonecipher Report will be exploring the possibilities for the Democrats state-by-state, by focusing on the close U.S. Senate races across the country.
To check out all of the Senate races we've covered just click on the "Stonecipher on The Senate" category in the right hand column of this page.
Today's race: North Carolina - Elizabeth Dole vs. Kay Hagen.
First, let's meet the candidates:
Who is Elizabeth Dole?
Most people know Senator Elizabeth "Liddy" Dole as the wife of 1996 Republican Presidential nominee turned Viagra pitchman, Bob Dole of Kansas. Although she had been active in politics for much of her life, she made a name for herself with her speech at the 1996 Republican National Convention in San Diego in support of her husband.
After a brief, but failed attempt at a Presidential run herself in 2000, In 2002, Liddy Dole decided to return to the state in which she was born, North Carolina, to run for the U.S. Senate. She beat former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles by an impressive eight point margin in a race that was supposed to be much closer.
During the 2006 Election Cycle Sen. Dole became the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), her job was to retain the Republican's lead in the U.S. Senate which she failed to do. Although she was widely criticized by political junkies and Republican "Party People" Dole remained popular in North Carolina and, going into the 2008 Election, she was expected to cruise to re-election.
Who is Kay Hagen?
As with any newcomer to the national political scene, one of Kay Hagen's biggest problems at the outset of this campaign was name recognition. And when the incumbant opponent's last name is Dole that problem is even larger.
But, while Hagen's political family ties are not as noteworthy as Dole's, she does have a few of her own. The five-term North Carolina State Senator has a former governor and a former mayor in her family. Her uncle was Lawton Chiles, the former Governor and U.S. Senator from Florida and her father served as the mayor of Lakeland, Florida.
As a State Senator, Hagen has received high praise from many, including Governor Mike Easley who called her "one of the smartest, hardest working, most effective senators we have in Raleigh.” And from the North Carolina Center for Public Policy who called her one of North Carolina's "Ten Most Effective Senators."
State of the Race:
When Hagen emerged from the May 6 Democratic Primary, the very same one which many credit as the final nail in Hillary Clinton's campaign coffin, she was viewed as a long-shot to knock off the popular and well known Elizabeth Dole.
In fact, Hagen herself believed she was a long-shot. After being urged by many to jump into the race Hagen turned it down at first. But the day after she made her decision not to run she "knew [she] had made the wrong decision." And she decided to take on Dole.
Over the summer it seemed as though Hagen's original hunch had been correct, she trailed by double digits and had trouble gaining any traction. But then came the DSCC (Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee) with two very effective ads which introduced two numbers to the race - 92 and 93.
92 and 93 have turned out to be two numbers Liddy Dole never wants to see again.
The DSCC ads mentioned above focused heavily on the fact that Dole voted with Bush 92% of the time and that according to Roll Call's 2008 Power Rankings she was the 93rd most effective Senator. Closer inspection reveals that 93 number to be even worse than it sounds, since the Power Rankings don't include Trent Lott, who retired mid-session, but do include disgraced Idaho Senator Larry Craig.
In addition to Dole's problems with the numbers 92 and 93, she has left herself wide open to being called a carpetbagger.
The North Carolina Senator bought her mother's home in the state just two days after former NC GOP Senator, Jesse Helms, announced his retirement. Her husband, whom she is not divorced or seperated from, maintains a home and his voter registration in Kansas, and Elizabeth herself has rarely been seen by her constituents in the Tar Heel State, as Dole seems to prefer her apartment at The Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. instead.
As it stands, the attacks against Dole seem to have worked and Hagen now holds a narrow 45% - 44% lead according to Electoral-Vote.com.
The momentum has clearly swung, but Dole is fighting back by dumping a (yet undisclosed) amount of her own personal money into the campaign. Dole has also launched a series of negative ads against State Senator Hagen, but so far she has not gained much traction from them.
This race looks to be close down the stretch. Dole could bounce back with one last negative push and an injection of cash into the campaign, but the well funded DSCC wants this one bad. They will continue to fight hard for Kay Hagen. What it will come down to is whether or not there is a significant turn-out on Election Day for Barack Obama. If Obama does well, his coattails could send State Senator Kay Hagen to The Senate.
Stonecipher's Prediction: Hagen 51% - Dole - 48%
Stay tuned to TSR for more on the North Carolina Senate Race. We'll soon have a follow up post which will include videos of campaign ads, videos of the candidates and more links to related to this race.