SSP is moving NC-Sen from "Safe Republican" to "Likely Republican." Several factors contribute to this change:
1) Democrat Kay Hagan (who convincingly won her primary earlier this week) has done a good job raking in cash so far, raising $1.5 million since she got into the race, including $900K in the first quarter. She had to spend a lot of her warchest in her race against Jim Neal, but it looks like her fundraising will continue to be strong.
2) Democratic turnout rocked the house on Tuesday. In the most directly comparable races, the parallel gubernatorial primaries, the number of votes cast on the Dem side was almost three-and-a-half times greater than in the GOP contest. Of course, Dem turnout was likely to be greater given the presidential battle atop the ticket, but new Democratic voter registrations are far outstripping Republican registrations. There has also been a huge flux of new independent registrations, and early voting patterns show that indies overwhelmingly prefer Team Blue.
3) The Obama factor: Barack Obama almost certainly makes this state far more competitive than Hillary Clinton would have. We're not saying Obama's going to win NC, but it will be in play. And while Obama's nomination has been inevitable for months, his grudging coronation by the tradmed finally allows him to focus on the general election. This is good news in the Tarheel State.
4) Finally, Liddy Dole's polling is less than stellar. A Rasmussen poll a month ago put the race at 52-39, while a more recent Research 2000/DailyKos poll showed a tight 48-41 margin. Now that Hagan is past the primary, much like Obama, she can turn her attention to her Republican opponent.
SSP's complete Senate race ratings are available here.