Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
If Democrats hold onto their Senate majority this year, the North Carolina Senate race may be their life raft. Incumbent Senator Kay Hagan (D) has managed to maintain a small lead over Republican Thom Tillis in all of the five most recent polls.
Hagan was considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats. She was first elected in 2008, when President Obama drove massive turnout and carried the state. Since then Obama’s approval has plummeted. In 2012, conservatives—fueled by massive contributions from multimillionaire Art Pope—took over the governor’s mansion as well as both chambers of the legislature. One of their first acts was to push through restrictions on voting, including ending same-day voter registration and curtailing early voting, in an effort clearly designed to suppress the votes of poor and minority voters. (The Supreme Court just overruled the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which had stayed implementation of the measures under the Civil Rights Act.)
Almost two-thirds of US voters surveyed think the country is on the wrong track. Mitt Romney won North Carolina in 2012 by a small margin. And the state hasn’t re-elected a Democratic senator since Sam Ervin in 1968.
Not surprisingly, Hagan was targeted early by the deep-pocket right-wing PACs. Americans for Prosperity dumped a staggering $7 million in adsagainst Hagan by March of this year. Karl Rove’s fronts—American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS—plan to spend $1 million a week in the last month of the campaign. (Tillis, the speaker of the North Carolina House, was Rove’s candidate in the Republican primary.)
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.