Democrats' plans to take Jesse Helms' old Senate seat, but state Sen. Kay Hagan and Sen. Elizabeth Dole were tied after the primary. Although Dole struck back, gaining ground on immigration and off-shore drilling, the economy and presidential race favored Democrats. Dole did herself no favors with an ad questioning Hagan's ties to an atheist-advocate group – and Hagan’s Christian faith, critics said. On Election Day, Hagan beat Dole.
Democratic state Sen. Kay Hagan beat first-term U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole in a nasty U.S. Senate race in which the Republican incumbent questioned Hagan's faith and ties to an atheist advocacy group. Hagan's win gave Democrats the Senate seat that had been in Republican hands for 36 years, since Sen. Jesse Helms won his first election in 1972.