RALEIGH, N.C. — The race for North Carolina's U.S. Senate seat is quickly becoming the hottest race in the state.
Republican Richard Burr and Democrat Erskine Bowles are locked in a dead heat.
According to the latest Voters' Voice Poll for WRAL-TV,
The News and Observer
and WUNC-FM, 46 percent will choose Bowles, 47 percent will choose Burr and 7 percent are undecided.
"We expected it to be tight," Bowles said. "Look, this race will be decided by a couple thousand votes here or there."
"I think a lot of the North Carolina Senate race will depend on turnout, the level of turnout and where that comes from," Burr said.
Burr is strongest in the west, in areas like Charlotte and the Triad, while Bowles is strongest to the east, from the Triangle to the coast.
According to the poll, since September, Bowles has lost ground to Burr in all regions. Now they are not only splitting the vote, but also the credit for the tobacco buyout that just passed through Congress.
Seventeen percent said Burr gets the credit, 15 percent said Bowles and 65 percent credit both.
So where do voters get their information? Thirty-eight percent said radio and TV news, 31 percent said the newspaper and 13 percent said radio and TV ads.
What the numbers do not indicate is what will influence undecided voters.
"I'm hesitant to use any of the old rules of thumb in this election," said Robin Dorff of the Institute of Political Leadership. "I don't think in this case late voters are going to break solidly Democratic as used to be the case."
Dorff, like the candidates, said it will come down to turnout.
"It's about knowing that you've got your people fired up and they're going to get out and vote," Dorff said.
The poll also shows the majority of voters feel the economy is the single most important issue facing North Carolina.
The poll surveyed
600 likely voters over the phone, from Sunday to Tuesday. Its margin of error was 4 percentage points.