The 2014 US Senate Race in NC: the Democrat’s last best chance?

Recent polls suggest that Senator Kay Hagan faces a difficult reelection bid in 2014. A recent Civitas poll has her in a statistical tie with a generic Republican and Public Policy Polling has a few points ahead of several Republicans, including the current NC House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tem.

After the 2010 and 2012 election cycles, Democrats are in need of a victory, even by an incumbent senator. Not only did the Democrats lose the governorship and both houses of the General Assembly, but the NC Congressional delegation is now held by a Republican majority. These losses not only give Republicans political momentum heading into the 2014 races, but, more importantly, a significant funding pipeline for electoral races.

As recently as 2008, Democrats held a 2-to-1 fundraising advantage in legislative races. No longer. Democrats have lost their fundraising advantage because the business community, long supportive of moderate and conservative Democratic candidates, has switched its support wholeheartedly to Republican candidates.

This leaves Kay Hagan in quite a quandary. If she moves to the left in the next seventeen months to appeal to many Democratic constituent groups already angry and motivated by Republican rule in NC, she could further alienate the NC donor groups so important to Democrats in the past. Then, Hagan has to rely heavily on funding coming from outside North Carolina from groups such as the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, an organization that is going to be defending many seats currently held by Democratic officeholders. 

There is little doubt that Democrats will target the Hagan race as critical for maintaining a foothold in NC politics until 2016 when the governorship and the seat currently held by Senator Richard Burr is up for election. Hagan’s dilemma and that of many Democratic candidates in moderate districts is whether to appeal to the angry base or try to repair its fundraising machine and appeal to the moderate business community?

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