Elections

Democrats up in N.C., Minn., Senate races, but N.H. looks shakier

Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., as she speaks with members of the media at a campaign field office in Goldsboro, N.C., Aug. 25, 2014, file. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., as she speaks with members of the media at a campaign field office in Goldsboro, N.C., Aug. 25, 2014, file. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) AP

Democrats in North Carolina and Minnesota got good news Thursday from Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball--their Senate races now look more winnable. Not so, though, in New Hampshire.

Sabato, who heads the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, is an independent analyst. The center tracks races closely, and reported that in North Carolina, “The problem for Republicans in the Tar Heel State is that Thom Tillis, their candidate and the speaker of the state House of Representatives, has particularly poor numbers for a challenger.”

“His unfavorables are usually higher than his favorables, and not just by a few points,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball.

Then again, incumbent Kay Hagan, the Democrat, doesn’t have big numbers either but they’re improving. “There’s some indication that her favorability is inching up to near an even split, meaning her favorability and unfavorability ratings would be about the same,” Kondik said. “And even though the president remains unpopular nationally, this state is several points more Democratic than Alaska, Arkansas, or Louisiana, three states where Democratic incumbents with deeper roots and better reputations as campaigners are in more trouble than Hagan is at the moment.

“President Obama’s not the drag here that he is in those states, though he is still a drag.”

As a result, the center moved North Carolina from a toss-up race to leans Democratic.

In Minnesota, where Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., is seeking re-election, the race’s status moved to likely Democratic.

New Hampshire, though, could be trouble for Democrats. Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican, has remained close to incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., in polls.

“We often mention how schizophrenic New Hampshire can be politically, swinging hard from one party to the other as the national mood changes,” Kondik said. “Well, perhaps we might see that here: President Obama’s approval rating in the poll was dreadful, with a 38percent/60 percent approval/disapproval. Brown may have some baggage because of his carpetbagging, but he’s definitely a good enough candidate to win if conditions allow.

“And they just might. Furthermore, New Hampshire is a state where retail politicking matters, and Brown has an edge on Shaheen in that department.”

While Shaheen remains the favorite, the center moved the race from likely Democratic to leans Democratic.

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