A new poll out this morning suggests a second female Democratic Senator is not in the cards for North Carolina. The Rasmussen survey of 500 likely voters shows incumbent Sen. Richard Burr (R) trouncing his Democratic opponent, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, 54-38.
Past polling from the race has shown Burr ahead, but not by this much. Rasmussen’s last poll, taken a month ago, showed Burr leading 49-40. A PPP (D) poll from July 31 showed Burr ahead by just 2 in a three-way race that included Libertarian nominee Mike Beitler. (It should be noted here that Democrats generally view Rasmussen as GOP-leaning, though the pollster insists it is non-partisan.)
Marshall handily won the Democratic nomination over the national Democratic party choice, Cal Cunningham, in the June 22 runoff. National party figures hinted they would stay out of the race if Cunningham wasn’t the nominee, and so far that seems to be the case. Marshall — a long-running figure in state politics — has found herself out-gunned versus the first-term Burr in the early part of the general election fight. The Republican just went on the air with his first TV ad, a clever spot that literally steals the two actors Sen. Kay Hagan (D) used to upset Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) in 2008.But there’s still room for Marshall, who brings a heap of political experience to the race, to give Burr a run for his (considerable amount of) money. As PPP pollster Dean Debnam wrote back in July, Burr has at best soft support in the Tar Heel State, and remains vulnerable even as the state appears to have turned on Obama after voting for him in 2008. If Marshall can — excuse the pun — marshal the resources necessary to boost her profile as a candidate she could still pull off the upset in the end.
“Elaine Marshall is still little known, so this race is all about Richard Burr, the most vulnerable Republican incumbent in the country,” said Debnam wrote.
The TPM Poll Average shows Burr leading Marshall 50.6-40.7 in a head-to-head matchup.
Late Update: Marshall spokesperson Sam Swartz writes in with reaction to the Rasmussen poll:
“This is a right-leaning pollster, and an outlier poll at that. After 16 years in Washington, public polling has consistently shown that North Carolina voters don’t like the job Senator Burr’s doing, and that Elaine Marshall is within striking distance.”
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