Election 2008

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N.C. Sen Elizabeth Dole

Elizabeth Dole Loses Senate Seat to Democrat Kay Hagan

November 05, 2008 12:57 AM
by Isabel Cowles
North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole ceded to Democratic opponent Kay Hagan Tuesday night.

Elizabeth Dole Cedes North Carolina Seat

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After one term in office, Senator Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., has lost her seat to Democrat Kay Hagan.

Hagan, a state lawmaker, was a relatively unknown candidate when she entered the race a year ago, but thanks to heavy Democratic support she was able to defeat the incumbent Republican.

Sen. Dole’s seat was one of many identified by the Democratic Party as vulnerable as the party strove to grow its Senate majority. They party seized the opportunity to support Hagan through advertising that portrayed Dole as ineffectual and out of touch with the electorate, and accusing her of not spending enough time in-state.

Dole, who is married to the former senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole, fought back by putting nearly $3 million of her own money into defensive advertising. Some pundits speculate that Dole lost due to her caustic counterattacks, one of which pictured a photo of Hagan while another woman’s voice stated, “There is no God”—a reference to a fundraiser Hagan attended with alleged atheists. Many considered the ad to be below the belt for questioning Hagan’s faith.
By Nov. 2, Hagan led Dole in most polls: a RealClearPolitics poll put her up 4.3 points statewide, while a SurveyUSA poll put her a solid 7 points above her Republican rival.

The election was called with 68 percent of precincts reporting: 53 percent went for Hagan compared to 44 percent to Dole.

Hagan won support by touring North Carolina by car and personally reaching out to voters. Hagan worked as a banker before becoming a state senator 10 years ago. During her time in office she became chief budget coordinator, controlling billions of dollars in state spending.

In Dole’s concession speech Tuesday night, the outgoing senator stated, “It’s been the highest honor of my life to be elected as the first female United States senator in North Carolina history. And believe me it has been an honor and a joy to represent the people of North Carolina in the United States Senate. I have done my level best to make you proud.”

Analysis: Dole the victim of Democratic dominance?

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