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Sabato says Hagan's re-elect prospects looking better

Political guru Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia is still calling North Carolina's Senate seat a toss up, but he writes that "it's reasonable to question the Republicans' chances there against first-term Sen. Kay Hagan.''

He writes that the national Republicans "do not seem thrilled" with the candidacy of House Speaker House Speaker Thom Tillis and grassroots conservatives are not on board either, with RedState.com editor Erick Erickson endorsing Cary physician and Tea Party activist Greg Brannon.

Moreover, Sabato suggests that angry Democrats could have the intensity on their side because of the legislation passed by the Republican legislature including the voter ID bill signed by Gov. McCrory on Monday.

"The unsettled Republican field means, to us, that of the four incumbent Democratic senators running for reeelection in states that Mitt Romney won in 2014 - Mark Begich(AK), Mark Pryor(AR), Mary Landrieu(LA) and Kay Hagan(NC) - Hagan is probably in the best shape at the moment.''

Sabato's full post can be read at www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/articles/notes-on-the-state-of-politics-2013-08-15.

Sabato: Hagan 'was always going to be vulnerable'

Politico has called Sen. Kay Hagan one of the most vulnerable Democrats seeking re-election in 2014.

Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia agrees, and he offered the following explanation why:

Incumbency doesn’t mean much in Tar Heel Senate contests, which means that Sen. Kay Hagan (D) was always going to be vulnerable. As if to underline that, she occupies a seat in one of only two states (Indiana is the other) to switch back to the Republicans after supporting Barack Obama in 2008. House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) is a possible challenger, and the U.S. House delegation is overflowing with possible GOP opponents, too.

Rep. Renee Ellmers name is one of those possible Congressional challengers, and state Senate leader Phil Berger's name has also been rumored

Sabato's Crystal Ball calls N.C. governor's race 'leans Republican'

Larry Sabato, the political uber-prognosticator at the University of Virginia, is now suggesting Republicans have the edge in the 2012 North Carolina governor's race.

In his latest Crystal Ball ratings, Sabato moved the race from "toss up" to "leans Republican."

His analysis: "We now slightly favor likely Republican nominee Pat McCrory, an ex-mayor of Charlotte, to defeat incumbent Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue. Why? The big picture factors all favor McCrory. Perdue has had a rocky term in office and is unpopular; polling has consistently shown McCrory leading Perdue in trial heats; McCrory came within a few points of defeating Perdue in 2008, a big Democratic year; unemployment in North Carolina is 10.4 percent, according to the most recent figures available; and Democrats have controlled the governor’s office in North Carolina for the past two decades, which is a good Republican argument for change."

The list of Perdue's troubles could continue for a few more lines -- notably missing is the indictment of her campaign aides and donors.

N.C. a presidential bellwether?

Larry Sabato says North Carolina could be a bellwether.

In a column on Real Clear Politics, the University of Virginia political professor tags North Carolina, Missouri and Florida as three states that lean toward John McCain but are "reversible."

McCain will have to work very hard to hold these three usually Republican states. If he loses even one of them, he will be up against the Electoral College wall. His margins in all are currently weak to nonexistent. In leaning them to McCain we are simply assuming that the voters' history of going GOP in presidential years might enable McCain to pull out a narrow win.

Sabato says if McCain locks up North Carolina by mid-September, he has a shot at an upset victory in November. But if a "wide variety of polls" shows Obama even or ahead, McCain is in trouble.

Dole gets veep name-check

North Carolina's other senator is getting more mentions.

After a brief boomlet in speculation about U.S. Sen. Richard Burr being selected as John McCain's running mate, interest died down. But lately U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole's name has come up as well.

Perhaps because of Hillary Clinton's continued presence in the campaign, Dole seems to be getting more than a few mentions of late.

On Real Clear Politics, University of Virginia political professor Larry Sabato writes that Dole has a "stellar brand name" and "wouldn't be controversial."

On the negative side, he writes that she "adds little electorally, unexciting candidate, might cost the GOP a Senate seat since she is up in November."

Of course, as Media General's Washington bureau writes, 417 politicians have been named as possible McCain veeps.

Edwards' climb gets steeper

MANCHESTER, N.H.—Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards' uphill climb toward the White House grew perilously steeper Tuesday after he finished a distant third among Democrats in the nation’s first presidential primary.

The loss follows a second-place finish in last Thursday’s Iowa Democratic caucus. Each defeat makes it harder to raise money and harder to convince potential supporters that he can win, Barb Barrett reports.

Edwards is the only Democrat with the experience of a previous White House bid, but he fared only marginally better in the critical first two contests than he did four years ago.

Edwards congratulated Obama and Clinton for their success in New Hampshire, but told cheering supporters Tuesday night that he plans to keep pushing toward the nomination.

Edwards was scheduled to fly to his native South Carolina today for appearances at Clemson University and in Columbia to gear up for the state’s Jan. 26 Democratic primary. He trails in polls in the Palmetto State, whose primaries are critical early contests for presidential contenders in both parties.

"As long as Edwards has money, he’s still alive," University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato said Tuesday.

Helms documentary airs Jan. 15

Jesse Helms will be featured in a UNC-TV documentary on Jan. 15.

Jack Betts has the details on This Old State:

The UNC-TV documentary, produced by filmmaker John Wilson, is entitled "Senator No: Jesse Helms." A press release from the public television station quotes University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato as observing, "Whether you like him or dislike him, he was at the heart of the conservative movement that changed America from the 1970s to today."

In addition, a biography of Helms by former UNC-Greensboro historian Bill Link is due on Feb. Its title is "Righteous Warrior: Jesse Helms and the Rise of Modern Conservatism."

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