According to the Washington Times, the latest poll has incumbent Democratic Senator Kay Hagen up by 3 points over Republican challenger Thom Tillis in the race for a U.S. Senate seat, a big surprise in conservative North Carolina.
Hagen is not the first female senator to represent North Carolina in a United States Senate seat. That honor goes to Republican Elizabeth Dole, North Carolina’s senator from 2003 to 2008. Dole had won her seat with a large percentage of democrats and independents, presumably anxious to see a female senator, supporting her run. In 2008, Democrat Kay Hagen beat Elizabeth Dole to become the state’s second female senator. An article by Christian Broda notes that the 2008 race was the first time in North Carolina’s history that both candidates for the U.S. Senate were women.
This time around Hagen is facing a conservative male opponent in Thom Tillis, an opponent of minimum wage hikes and an extension on the current 26 week federal limit for unemployment benefits. Ms. Hagen supports both measures and that might help explain her current tenuous lead. North Carolina currently faces a poverty rate of 18% and has been particularly slow in recovering from the recent recession.