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Poll: Dole leads Senate race, but plenty still undecided

Posted October 29, 2008

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— U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole is supported by many North Carolina voters whom other Republican candidates haven't reached, according to a new WRAL News poll.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. surveyed 800 likely voters statewide between last Wednesday and Friday and found Dole leads Democratic challenger Kay Hagan by 46 to 42 percent. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

"The big surprise compared to where we all were in the summer is that this race is even competitive," Democratic strategist Gary Pearce said.

Dole leads Hagan in all regions of the state except for the Triangle, where Hagan has a 19-point lead, and northeastern counties, where they are tied, according to the poll. Unlike Republican presidential candidate John McCain and gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory, she runs strongly in eastern North Carolina.

"A lot of the old-time, conservative Democrats down east are sticking with her," said John Davis, who's tracked political races for more than two decades as an independent consultant and former president of non-partisan political research business association NCFREE.

Dole also holds a 53 to 33 percent lead in the Triad, where Hagan built her political career as a state senator. Davis said he wasn't surprised by the results since most of the areas in her district outside of Guilford County are traditionally Republican.

"Right now, the Triangle is the strength of the Hagan campaign, and she needs a huge turnout here if she wants to be victorious on election night," said Joe Sinsheimer, a former Democratic consultant.

Those surveyed said Dole was the better candidate to handle issues from the economy to national security to illegal immigration. Hagan got the nod among respondents only on the issue of health care.

Despite her advantage, the 9 percent of voters who said they were still undecided could signal a Dole defeat on Election Day, Davis said.

Twelve percent of female voters, 13 percent of black voters, 12 percent of independents and 14 percent of voters under age 35 said they hadn't decided whom to back in the Senate race, according to the poll. Hagan leads Dole in each of those categories.

"Dole has been on the center stage for 40 years, and people know her and what she stands for," Davis said. "A lot of them aren't willing to commit to her, but they feel they don't know Hagan well enough yet to commit to her either."

He said he thinks the nation's anti-incumbent mood will tilt many of the undecided voters into Hagan's column before next Tuesday.

Dole has both a higher favorable rating and a higher unfavorable rating among voters than Hagan, who remains an unknown to almost 30 percent of those polled.

"That's a symbol of the fact that Hagan started as an unknown and has a long way to go and hasn't quite gotten there yet," Republican strategist Carter Wrenn said.

64 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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  • fbcoachgeorge Oct 31, 12:51 p.m.

    I MUST ADMIT I AM ONE OF THE VOTERS IN THE ANTI ENCUMBENT MOOD...GET THEM ALL OUT OF OFFICE, BOTH DEMOCRAT AND REPUBLICAN..THEY ARE DESTROYING OUR COUNTRY....TRY EMAILING AN ENCUMBENT AND SEE IF YOU GET A RESPONCE...AINT GONNA HAPPEN!! AT LEAST WITH ME IT DIDN'T..NONE OF THEM RESPONDED, EVEN AFTER SEVERAL EMAILS REGARDING CORRUPTION ON THE STATE AND FEDERAL LEVELS....

  • keith23456 Oct 30, 3:04 p.m.

    I always had high opinions of Elizabeth Dole, but she almost never responds to my letters (unlike Burr and my Representative in DC). Does she not have aides and assistants to respond to her constituents concerns? I'm an independent so I am sure that she didn't respond because she didn't consider me a supporter. But when she's in Washington, isn't she meant to work for all the residents of the state and not just Republican party members?

    Of the two responses I received, I found that her positions on the SCHIP law to be reprehensible, preferring to support tobacco companies rather than health care. If you look at a lot of her votes, she sides a lot with corporations and business rather than her REAL constituents. I personally do not feel that she has done anything for this state, and she doesn't usually cross party lines on important legislation. I think that Hagan can do a better job.

    She will not have my vote on November 4th!

  • Dr. Dataclerk Oct 30, 12:36 p.m.

    Hagan has my vote. :)

  • canesnut Oct 30, 11:53 a.m.

    I already voted for Dole. I had to hold my nose to do it, but it was the lesser of two evils.

  • veyor Oct 30, 11:06 a.m.

    As usual, just before the election the truth begins to trickle in.

  • Snookyone Oct 30, 10:48 a.m.

    Besides being a worthless senator, Liddy has proven herself to be a real witch. Come on, Liddy, click those ruby slippers together and go back to Kansas.

  • atc2 Oct 30, 10:36 a.m.

    Are you kidding! What dumb North Carolinians are voting for Dole?

    We get what we deserve. This woman is pathetic. Living off of the taxpayers and doing NOTHING in Washington for this state.

  • charlesboyer Oct 30, 10:02 a.m.

    This poll is worthless without internals and crosstabs.

    Further, it is in opposition to Pollster.com's cumulative results that have Hagan leading 47% to Dole's 43%. Individually, AP/GfK has Hagan up 47%/43% and PPP has Hagan leading 48%/45%.

    http://www.pollster.com/polls/nc/08-nc-sen-ge-dvh.php

    Finally, Mason/Dixon is considered to have a built-in 1.75% error, which coupled on top of their stated margin of error renders their polling data in a tight race somewhat irrelevant, considering that their data are in major disagreement with other polls and that they do not publish internals.

  • Bob Sidel Oct 30, 9:29 a.m.

    "A lot of them aren't willing to commit to her, but they feel they don't know Hagan well enough yet to commit to her either."

    so if you know someone is worthless and arent willing to commit your vote to this person, why not just take a chance on the other, can it get any worse? I wont vote for anyone who tries to bring religion into the race, slimey

  • Darren Oct 30, 9:27 a.m.

    "Yesterday, Elizabeth Dole sunk to a stunning low with the "Godless" ad. She should be ashamed."

    What's all this talk about a new ad? Dole's been on this 'godless' attack for a couple of months. It's been all over the news, and I talk about it on an October 9th post on my blog: (nocoercion.com).

    And even if Hagan was an atheist, what would be wrong with that? People need to grow up and realize not everyone has to believe in their magical fairy tales about supreme beings and such.

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