The inclusion of Jerry Meek in a recent poll is probably not coincidental.
Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, has been testing various candidates against the incumbent Republican senator in recent months.
Their decision to try out Meek, the state Democratic Party chairman, could signal several things. Here are a few theories:
Sacrificial lamb: Despite Democratic boasting, Democrats don't think they can win, so they're looking for a candidate with nothing to lose. (Unlike, say, Rep. Brad Miller.)
Lose now, win later: Even PPP's Justin Guillory calls Meek "a relative unknown." Coming in a close second to Dole could put him in play down the road. (It worked for Mike Easley, who lost a Senate primary, but later became governor.)
Jack Murphy test: The firm was just looking to see how Dole would fare against a random name, like the fictional Murphy, to see her generic approval ratings.
Meek came in at 32 percent to Dole's 47 percent in the poll.