Republican U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole's campaign acknowledges that outside advertising from the Democratic Senatorial Congressional Committee could be hurting their candidate.
But they are disavowing new poll numbers showing Dole now slightly behind Democratic challenger Kay Hagan, a state senator.
"I think the DSCC's ads are definitely having an impact on the race," said Dole spokesman Hogan Gidley. "When an outside group comes in and spends millions of dollars … it's got to affect the race somehow."
Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm in Raleigh, released new numbers Tuesday showing Hagan edges Dole 42-39 among likely voters. That's right at the margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.
Gidley also slammed the company for its survey style of push-button polling, a method considered less reliable among some polling experts than live interviews.
"I think the poll's a bunch of junk for many reasons," Gidley said.
Tom Jensen at PPP attributes Hagan's bump to outside advertising from the Democrats' Senate campaign committee, based in Washington. Two ads, including one showing two elderly men in rocking chairs, question Dole's effectiveness in Washington and accuse her of voting with President Bush 92 percent of the time through 2007.
(Dole's vote-with-Bush record is 88 percent through this summer.)
"Our ads confirm what people already know about Elizabeth Dole," said Matthew Miller, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "They don't see much of Dole and they don't know what she's done."
The DSCC just launched a third advertisement Monday that again questions Dole's effectiveness and ties her to President Bush.
Hagan spokeswoman Colleen Flanagan said Hagan's ads, too, are having an impact. Hagan has two ads airing right now, one a biography about her, another that talks about the middle class.
"Elizabeth Dole did not expect a tough race," Flanagan said.
Other outside groups, including MoveOn.org, also have attacked Dole in advertising.
"We're prepared dollar for dollar here, but we've got to raise some money," Gidley said. "And when you have outside groups coming in and attacking you, we've got to be prepared for it."