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United States Senate election in North Carolina, 2008

United States Senate election in North Carolina, 2008

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The 2008 United States Senate election in North Carolina was held on November 4, 2008. The Senate election
United States Senate elections, 2008
Elections for the United States Senate were held on November 4, 2008, with 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate being contested. Thirty-three seats were regular elections; the winners were eligible to serve six-year terms from January 3, 2009, to January 3, 2015, as members of Senate Class II...

 coincided with the presidential
United States presidential election, 2008
The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 2008. Democrat Barack Obama, then the junior United States Senator from Illinois, defeated Republican John McCain, the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona. Obama received 365...

, U.S. House elections
United States House of Representatives elections in North Carolina, 2008
The United States House of Representative elections of 2008 in North Carolina were held on 4 November 2008 as part of the biennial election to the United States House of Representatives. All thirteen seats in North Carolina, and 435 nation-wide, were elected to the 111th United States Congress...

, gubernatorial
North Carolina gubernatorial election, 2008
The North Carolina gubernatorial election of 2008 was held on November 4, 2008, coinciding with the presidential, U.S. Senate, U.S. House elections, Council of State, and statewide judicial elections...

, Council of State, and statewide judicial elections
North Carolina judicial elections, 2008
One justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court and six judges of the North Carolina Court of Appeals were elected to eight-year terms by North Carolina voters on November 4, 2008. This coincided with the presidential, U.S. Senate, U.S. House, gubernatorial, and Council of State elections.North...

. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole
Elizabeth Dole
Mary Elizabeth Alexander Hanford "Liddy" Dole is an American politician who served in both the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush presidential administrations, as well as a United States Senator....

 ran for re-election to a second term, but was defeated by Democrat Kay Hagan. The November general election was the first time in North Carolina history, and only the eighth time in U.S. history, that the two major-party candidates for a U.S. Senate seat were both women.

Candidates

  • Kay Hagan, State Senator
  • Duskin Lassiter, trucker
  • Jim Neal
    Jim Neal
    James Weatherly "Jim" Neal, Jr. is a North Carolina Democrat and a business executive and investment banker who was a candidate in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate in 2008...

    , businessman
  • Howard Staley
    Howard Staley
    Howard Staley, is a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine [D.P.M.] and Surgery and a Chatham County, North Carolina Democrat, who announced on January 17, 2008 that he would join the race for United States Senate in North Carolina to challenge Republican U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole. Dr. Staley was one of...

    , doctor
  • Marcus Williams, attorney

Campaign


Hagan, initially an unknown politician, decided to challenge incumbent Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole
Elizabeth Dole
Mary Elizabeth Alexander Hanford "Liddy" Dole is an American politician who served in both the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush presidential administrations, as well as a United States Senator....

.

National Democrats at first encouraged incumbent Governor Mike Easley
Mike Easley
Michael Francis "Mike" Easley is an American politician who served as the 72nd Governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina, from 2001 to 2009. He is member of the North Carolina Democratic Party and became the first North Carolina governor to admit to a felony in a deal that halted a lengthy...

 to make the race. A late October 2007 Rasmussen Report poll showed Easley defeating Dole 50% to 42%. Easley declined to run, as did Congressman Brad Miller
Brad Miller (congressman)
Ralph Bradley "Brad" Miller is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 2003. District 13 includes all of Caswell and Person counties, and parts of Alamance, Granville, Guilford, Rockingham and Wake counties...

, who expressed interest in early 2007. Former Governor Jim Hunt
Jim Hunt
James Baxter Hunt Jr. is an American politician who was the 69th and 71st Governor of the state of North Carolina . He is the longest-serving governor in the state's history.-Early life:...

 also declined to compete against Dole.

Neal earned the endorsement of the Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. He also was endorsed by Blue America PAC, eQualityGiving, the Independent Weekly
Independent Weekly
The Independent Weekly is a tabloid-format alternative weekly newspaper published in Durham, North Carolina, United States and distributed throughout the Research Triangle area and counties .The Independent is a member of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and has a...

and YES ! Weekly.

Results



Results



Candidates

  • Chris Cole (L), perennial candidate
  • Elizabeth Dole
    Elizabeth Dole
    Mary Elizabeth Alexander Hanford "Liddy" Dole is an American politician who served in both the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush presidential administrations, as well as a United States Senator....

     (R), incumbent U.S. Senator
  • Kay Hagan (D), State Senator

Campaign




Dole was initially a heavy favorite for reelection, especially after several potential top-tier challengers such as Congressman Brad Miller
Brad Miller (congressman)
Ralph Bradley "Brad" Miller is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 2003. District 13 includes all of Caswell and Person counties, and parts of Alamance, Granville, Guilford, Rockingham and Wake counties...

, Governor Mike Easley
Mike Easley
Michael Francis "Mike" Easley is an American politician who served as the 72nd Governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina, from 2001 to 2009. He is member of the North Carolina Democratic Party and became the first North Carolina governor to admit to a felony in a deal that halted a lengthy...

 and former Governor Jim Hunt
Jim Hunt
James Baxter Hunt Jr. is an American politician who was the 69th and 71st Governor of the state of North Carolina . He is the longest-serving governor in the state's history.-Early life:...

 all declined to compete against Dole. Ultimately, Kay Hagan, a state senator
North Carolina Senate
The North Carolina Senate is one of the two houses of the North Carolina General Assembly.Its prerogatives and powers are similar to those of the other house, the House of Representatives. Its members do, however, represent districts that are larger than those of their colleagues in the House. The...

 from Greensboro, won the Democratic primary election and became Dole's general election opponent. Reports late in the campaign suggested that Dole, once considered a safe bet for reelection, suffered from Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

's decision to aggressively contest North Carolina in the presidential election.

Hagan was initially given little chance against Dole, but Hagan was helped by independent 527 group
527 group
A 527 organization or 527 group is a type of American tax-exempt organization named after "Section 527" of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code...

s lobbying/advertising against incumbent Dole The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has expended more money in North Carolina than in any other state during the 2008 election season. However, Dole benefited from more out-of-state funding overall than Hagan.

In late October, Dole released a controversial television ad attacking Hagan for reportedly taking donations from individuals involved in the Godless Americans PAC, a group which advocates for the rights of people who do not believe in God. The ad also included a female voice saying, "There is no God." The Dole campaign said the ad correctly shows who Hagan will associate with in order to raise campaign funds, and on November 1, Bob Dole
Bob Dole
Robert Joseph "Bob" Dole is an American attorney and politician. Dole represented Kansas in the United States Senate from 1969 to 1996, was Gerald Ford's Vice Presidential running mate in the 1976 presidential election, and was Senate Majority Leader from 1985 to 1987 and in 1995 and 1996...

 also defended it, asserting that "it never questions her faith," and that "the issue is why she was there. There's no question about her faith. I think it's [the ad's] fair game."

Hagan, who is a member of the Presbyterian Church and a former Sunday school
Sunday school
Sunday school is the generic name for many different types of religious education pursued on Sundays by various denominations.-England:The first Sunday school may have been opened in 1751 in St. Mary's Church, Nottingham. Another early start was made by Hannah Ball, a native of High Wycombe in...

 teacher, condemned the ad as "fabricated and pathetic," and, according to Hagan's campaign website, a cease-and-desist letter was "hand-delivered to Dole's Raleigh office, faxed to her Salisbury office and sent to her home at the Watergate in Washington, DC." Hagan also filed a lawsuit in Wake County
Wake County, North Carolina
Wake County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 900,993 making it North Carolina's second most populated county...

 Superior Court accusing Dole of defamation and libel.

The ad has met exceptionally strong criticism from the public as well as many local and several national media outlets. CNN's Campbell Brown
Campbell Brown
Campbell Brown is an American television news reporter and anchor. She previously hosted an eponymous primetime show on CNN and was formerly co-anchor of NBC's Weekend Today...

 said about the ad: "[A]mid all the attack ads on the airwaves competing to out-ugly one another, we think we've found a winner." The ad has been described as "ridiculously outrageous," "indecent," a "gross misrepresentation," "worse than dishonest" and "beyond the bounds of acceptable political disagreement," among other harsh criticism. Another ad issued by the Dole campaign in mid-October 2008 was described by The Fayetteville Observer as "[setting] the low mark in negative political campaigning." The media reported, that within 48 hours of the first ad Hagan received over 3,600 contributions, including major donors as well as individual support from a range of atheists, agnostics and followers of other religious beliefs who felt they were being attacked by Dole. Following the second ad Hagan's lead doubled according to some polls.

Predictions


In June 2008, Senator John Ensign
John Ensign
John Eric Ensign is a former United States Senator from Nevada, serving from January 2001 until he resigned amid an investigation of an ethics violation in May 2011...

 of Nevada, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee
National Republican Senatorial Committee
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is the Republican Hill committee for the United States Senate, working to elect Republicans to that body. The NRSC was founded in 1916 as the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee...

, considered North Carolina to be one of the top ten most competitive Senate races of the year.
Later, CQ Politics rated this race as 'Leans Democratic'. The Cook Political Report called it a 'Toss-Up'.
The Rothenberg Political Report considered it a 'Lean Takeover'.

Polling



Polls released October 28 showed Dole and Hagan within the statistical margin of error (3% apart) and Cole garnering 4% of the vote.
Poll Source Dates administered Kay Hagan (D) Elizabeth Dole (R)
Survey USA November 2, 2008 50% 43%
Rasmussen Reports October 29, 2008 52% 46%
Survey USA October 20, 2008 46% 45%
Rasmussen Reports October 8, 2008 49% 44%
Survey USA October 5–6, 2008 43% 44%
Public Policy Polling September 28–29, 2008 46% 38%
Rasmussen Reports September 23, 2008 48% 45%
Public Policy Polling September 19, 2008 46% 41%
Rasmussen Reports September 18, 2008 51% 45%
Daily Kos/Research 2000 September 10, 2008 42% 48%
Survey USA September 8, 2008 40% 48%
Democracy Corps August 26, 2008 50% 45%
Public Policy Polling August 23, 2008 42% 39%
Insider Advantage August 19, 2008 40% 40%
Research 2000/Daily Kos July 28-30, 2008 42% 50%
Public Policy Polling July 23-27, 2008 40% 49%
Rasmussen Reports July 15, 2008 43% 54%
Survey USA July 14, 2008 42% 54%
The Tarrance Group July 9, 2008 36% 51%
Civitas Institute/
Tel Opinion Research
June 11-13, 2008 38% 48%
Rasmussen Reports June 10, 2008 39% 53%
Anzalone Liszt Research June 4, 2008 44% 48%
Public Policy Polling May 28-29, 2008 39% 47%
Survey USA May 17-19, 2008 46% 50%
Civitas Institute/
Tel Opinion Research
May 14-17, 2008 43% 45%
Public Policy Polling May 8-9, 2008 43% 48%
Rasmussen Reports May 8, 2008 48% 47%
Research 2000/Daily Kos April 28-30, 2008 41% 48%
Rasmussen Reports April 10, 2008 39% 52%
Public Policy Polling February 18, 2008 33% 50%

Results



Analysis


In the 2008 election, Dole lost by a wider-than-expected margin, taking only 44 percent of the vote to Hagan's 53 percent – the widest margin for a Senate race in North Carolina in 30 years, and the largest margin of defeat for an incumbent Senator in the 2008 cycle. It has been speculated that the outcry over the "Godless" ads contributed to Dole's loss. Hagan trounced Dole in the state's five largest counties – Mecklenburg
Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
-Air:The county's primary commercial aviation airport is Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte.- Intercity rail :With twenty-five freight trains a day, Mecklenburg is a freight railroad transportation center, largely due to its place on the NS main line between Washington and Atlanta...

, Wake
Wake County, North Carolina
Wake County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 900,993 making it North Carolina's second most populated county...

, Guilford
Guilford County, North Carolina
Guilford County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. In 2010, the Census Bureau estimated the county's population to be 491,230. Its seat is Greensboro. Since 1938, an additional county court has been located in High Point, North Carolina, making Guilford one of only a handful...

, Forsyth
Forsyth County, North Carolina
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 306,067 people, 123,851 households, and 81,741 families residing in the county. The population density was 747 people per square mile . There were 133,093 housing units at an average density of 325 per square mile...

 and Durham
Durham County, North Carolina
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 223,314 people, 89,015 households, and 54,032 families residing in the county. The population density was 769 people per square mile . There were 95,452 housing units at an average density of 329 per square mile...

. Hagan also dominated most of the eastern portion of the state, which had been the backbone of Helms' past Senate victories. While Dole dominated the Charlotte
CHARLOTTE
- CHARLOTTE :CHARLOTTE is an American blues-based hard rock band that formed in Los Angeles, California in 1986. Currently, they are signed to indie label, Eonian Records, under which they released their debut cd, Medusa Groove, in 2010. Notable Charlotte songs include 'Siren', 'Little Devils',...

 suburbs and most of the heavily Republican Foothills region, it was not enough to save her seat.

External links