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Kay Hagan's seat ranks as 'lean Democrat'

The Rothenberg Political Report ranks U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan's seat leans Democrat in the first 2014 Senate election ratings. The report -- a leading Washington handicapper -- says: "Given the GOP's recent victories in the state, Hagan is almost guaranteed a serious challenge"

A dozen seats are safe for each party. Of the nine competitive seats, three lean Democrat and one is favored Democrat. Three more tilt Democrat.

Republicans are favored in two but only one seat leans Republican. And one -- South Dakota -- is a pure toss up.

The Washington Post's political prognosticators rank the race No. 4 on their list of most competitive Senate seats. The writeup: "A recent poll from Democratic-leaning automated pollster Public Policy Polling shows Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan’s approval rating is underwater, but she nonetheless leads potential GOP competitors. If Republicans can find the right candidate, Hagan will face a tough road to reelection."

Quick Hits

* Washington political predictor Stuart Rothenberg ranks U.S. Sen. Richard Burr's 2010 re-election race as "narrow advantage for incumbent party."

* Health care consultant Adam Searing suggests one way legislators could cut costs at the State Health Plan: Remove themselves from it's coverage.

* President Obama says he wants to modify "Buy American" provisions in the stimulus bill, presumably including one by freshman Democratic Rep. Larry Kissell.

* State Sen. Neal Hunt takes another run at the windmill with a bill that would call for at-large elections of several seats on the Wake County school board.

Ross, Silver take the gold in punditry

Two liberal bloggers came the closest to predicting North Carolina's presidential race.

Nate Silver, a statistics nut who runs the Web site, and Kirk Ross, who writes the Exile on Jones Street blog about the legislature, both predicted Barack Obama would win the state. Silver said by 0.6 percentage points; Ross by 0.5 to 1.5 points.

The actual margin, according to uncertified results from the State Board of Elections, was 0.3 points.

The two were among 16 bloggers, pundits, professors and consultants who predicted an Obama win in the Tar Heel state, according to an informal tally by Dome the week before the election.

Because of the narrow margin, the 13 who predicted a McCain win (including the Eight Ball) shouldn't be too ashamed, except maybe the four conservatives who predicted a win by three or more points — Sen. Richard Burr, Red State editor Erick Erickson, blogger Ed Morrissey and editor Fred Barnes.

And no points go to the five mainstream sources who refused to make a prediction (Rothenberg Political Report, Congressional Quarterly, Cook Political Report, New York Times and MSNBC.)

Rankings on the Senate race

Analysts think the Senate race is Kay Hagan's to lose.

A quick survey of the major political observers in the days leading up to the election show that they either rank the race as a toss-up or say it favors Hagan slightly:

N.C. consultant John Davis: Hagan win

UNC-Chapel Hill prof Leroy Towns: Hagan win

Democratic consultant Gary Pearce: Hagan win

Winston-Salem Journal managing editor Ken Otterbourg: Hagan win 

Liberal N.C. blogger Kirk Ross: Hagan win

Conservative N.C. blogger Dan Gearino: Hagan win 

Magic Eight Ball: Hagan win 

Five Thirty Eight: Likely Democrat

Washington Post: Sixth Most Likely to Switch Parties

Rothenberg Political Report: Leans Hagan

University of Virginia prof Larry Sabato: Leans Democrat 

Congressional Quarterly: Leans Democrat

Cook Political Report: Toss-up

New York Times: Toss-up

MSNBC's Chuck Todd: Nailbiter

N.C. State politics prof Andy Taylor: Dole win

Rankings on the presidential race

Analysts say North Carolina is a presidential toss-up.

A quick survey of the major political observers in the days leading up to the election shows an even split, with several refusing to predict:

Liberal blogger Markos Moulitsas: Obama by seven points

Republican strategist Ed Rollins: Obama by three points

Newsweek editor Eleanor Clift: Obama by three points

Talk show host Bill Maher: Obama by three points

Arianna Huffington: Obama by two points

Roll Call editor Mort Kondracke: Obama by one point

Five Thirty Eight's Nate Silver: Obama by 0.6 of a point

Liberal N.C. blogger Kirk Ross: Obama by 0.5 to 1.5 points

University of Virginia prof Larry Sabato: Obama win

Republican firm CAJ Consultants: Obama win

N.C. consultant Gary Pearce: Obama win

UNC-Chapel Hill prof Leroy Towns: Obama win

N.C. consultant John Davis: Obama win

Conservative N.C. blogger Dan Gearino: Obama win

Facing South's Chris Kromm: Leans Obama

Conservative columnist George F. Will: Obama win "not startling"

Rothenberg Political Report: Toss-up

Congressional Quarterly: No Clear Favorite

Cook Political Report: Toss-up

New York Times: Toss-up

MSNBC's Chuck Todd: Nailbiter

Magic Eight Ball: McCain win

Winston-Salem Journal editor Ken Otterbourg: McCain win

Republican consultant Karl Rove: McCain win

N.C. consultant Carter Wrenn: McCain win

N.C. State politics prof Andy Taylor: McCain win

Washington Post blogger Chris Cillizza: McCain by two points

Politico editor Charles Mahtesian: McCain by two points

"Hardball" host Chris Matthews: McCain by two points

NPR analyst Juan Williams: McCain by two points

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr: McCain by three to six points 

Red State editor Erick Erickson: McCain by three points

Conservative blogger Ed Morrissey: McCain by three points

Conservative editor Fred Barnes: McCain by five points

Rothenberg: N.C. prez a toss-up

The Rothenberg Political Report agrees: North Carolina's presidential race is a toss-up.

It joins the Cook Political Report, Congressional Quarterly, The New York Times, MSNBC's editors, Republican consultant Karl Rove and editors of The Atlantic Monthly.

NYT, CQ: N.C. is a presidential toss-up

The New York Times says North Carolina is a toss-up.

The newspaper had previously not included the state in its round-up of battlegrounds and had it leaning towards John McCain on its electoral map, but that changed today: 

North Carolina, a state that is normally is about as red as they get, is being moved into the toss-up column. Mr. Obama has poured tons of money into the state, and is spending a lot of time there, and Republicans are growing increasingly anxious that he might take it away from them. 

Meantime, Congressional Quarterly also moved the state into its "No Clear Favorite" category today.

At the outset, McCain had the edge — the GOP has won 9 out of the past 10 contests — but his comfort margin has evaporated. Obama can count on a large African-American turnout. 

The Cook Political Report, MSNBC's editors, Republican consultant Karl Rove, and editors of The Atlantic Monthly also consider North Carolina a toss-up.  

The Rothenberg Political Report still calls the state "Leans McCain," but his ratings haven't been publicly updated since late September.

Cook: N.C. a presidential toss-up

The Cook Political Report ranks North Carolina a presidential "toss-up."

Noted Washington political analyst Charlie Cook has previously included the state's 15 Electoral College votes in the "Leans Republican" category.

He is the first of the big three analysts to say the state is in play. The Rothenberg Political Report still calls the state "Leans McCain," while CQ Politics says it "Leans Republican."

However, MSNBC's political editors, Republican consultant Karl Rove and the Atlantic Monthly have said it is a toss-up.

MSNBC: N.C. a presidential toss-up

MSNBC says North Carolina is a presidential "toss-up."

On their First Read blog, the network's editors write that North Carolina could go to either Barack Obama or John McCain.

"As the slew of recent national and state polls suggest, our new map reflects a shift in Obama's direction," they write. "What's interesting about these shifts is that while Obama is showing an improvement in fast-growing states (CO, FL, NV, NC, VA), he can't seem to put away the Northern tier states of slow-growing states (MI, PA, WI) or make progress in what some believe is still the all-important state of OH."

This is the highest ranking given to Obama's chances here by a nationally known political team so far this election season.

Still, the big three still see a slight advantage for McCain, however. 

Last week, Congressional Quarterly downgraded North Carolina to "Leans Republican." The Rothenberg Political Report ranks it as "Leans McCain." And the Cook Political Report lists is as "Leans Republican."

Senate race a 'toss up,' raters say

Three national groups say the Senate race a toss-up.

On Thursday, the Cook Political Report moved the race between U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole and Kay Hagan to "Toss Up" after previously ranking it "Leans Republican."

On Sept. 14, the Rothenberg Political Report also moved the race to "Toss Up" and Congressional Quarterly calls it "No Clear Favorite."

"Democrats view Dole as vulnerable in her second-term bid because of ties to Bush, her support for the war and her stint chairing the Senate GOP ’ s disastrous 2006 campaign effort," CQ editors write. "Democratic state senator Kay Hagan has launched a strong campaign to unseat Dole and the party is rallying behind her to make this seat a pick-up opportunity." 

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