For the first time this cycle, Sen. Elizabeth Dole tops the 50% mark against both Democrats in the field. Dole leads Democrat front-runner Kay Hagan 51-39, also topping Jim Neal 52-37. These numbers don’t mean that Dole is safe, but she’s certainly looking strong.
Democrats had first hoped to convince Gov. Easley to run, but he took a pass. The entire Democrat Congressional delegation then followed suit. These numbers illustrate why the Democrats had been so anxious to get somebody better in this race. Now it’s late in the game, Hagan’s a recent entry, Dole has a huge cash on hand advantage, her numbers are on the rise, and the situation in Iraq is improving. Hagan will need to post amazing numbers at the end of the year if she’s going to make this a race, and frankly I don’t see it happening.
Democrats had desperately hoped to make some progress in Dixie, but that’s not going to happen this cycle. They had sought opportunites in Tennessee, albeit briefly, Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Now, though, Republicans are heavily favored in all of those races. While it’s true that Sen. Chuck Schumer had an amazing cycle in 2006, his primary failure during his two cycles will be that he failed to gain any ground further South than Virginia. The South has solidified behind Republicans and he has been unable to do anything about it.