The Swing State Project is moving its rating of the North Carolina Senate contest from "Lean Republican" to "Tossup".
Recent polling confirms a dramatic tightening of this race in the past month after the DSCC began unloading a series of advertisements calling into question Dole's effectiveness in Washington and her ties to Bush and "big oil". We've been waiting to see if Dole could mount an effective counter-attack against Hagan, but we still have yet to see a coherent GOP defense here. Whereas Hagan and the DSCC have chosen their narrative (Dole being an ineffective creature of Washington for the past 40 years) and are driving the message effectively and relentlessly. Dole's sliding re-elect numbers confirm the shakiness of her position.
On the national scale, most polls are indicating a tight contest -- certainly much closer than John Kerry's performance against Bush in 2004. Democrats have already added over 130,000 voters to their registration advantage over the GOP here since 2006, and Obama's ground game will be working hard to turn out the base vote. While his campaign is not favored to win the state, Hagan, with more crossover appeal as a down-home Democrat, could be poised to reap the benefits of his operation.
Dole will still be tough to beat, but we can no longer give her the edge in the face of a very effective campaign by Hagan and the DSCC.