Charlie Cook Talks North Carolina Senate Race - myfoxcarolinas.com

Charlie Cook Talks North Carolina Senate Race

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With less than nine weeks to Election Day, don't ask Political Analyst Charlie Cook, of the Cook Political Report, to make a prediction- it's far too early.

“I think this could easily be the closest race in the country,” Cook said. “Hagan is an extremely vulnerable incumbent where she won under some interesting circumstances where Senator Dole was not coming back to the state much.”

Senator Hagan will debate State Speaker of the House Thom Tillis tonight in the first of three debates. CBS This Morning's Norah O'Donnell is the moderator.

According to Cook, all eyes will be watching to see if Hagan and Tillis make any mistakes, or have any major gaffes.

“The key thing is, does someone make a mistake or do something that can be turned into a 30-second ad and have their brains beaten over it,” Cook said. “That's why candidates try to go into debates with the idea of do no harm.”

According to Nate Silver's Five-Thirty-Eight blog, the race is a dead-heat. The blog also says Republicans have a 63.9% chance of winning the majority.

In the days leading up the debate, Hagan has tried to display Tillis as a poster boy for the North Carolina General Assembly whereas Tillis has tried to attack Hagan on her relationship with President Obama.

Political experts say it has been a battle of who do you hate more- Raleigh or Washington, D.C.

"Hagan needs to position herself in a way where she is not too close to the president but doesn't alienate the president's coalition that she rode to office when she was first elected,” said Dr. Jason Husser, a political scientist at Elon University. “Tillis on the other hand needs to show that he is a strong conservative to turn out his base, but at the same time, he needs to make sure he is not stained by some of the unpopular decisions the North Carolina legislature has made over the last couple of years."

Cook says this battle of North Carolina Capitol vs. United States Capitol is because of more intense coverage of the legislature's sessions.

“I think this legislation session seems to have gotten a lot more coverage, and sort of edgier coverage than most legislative sessions,” Cook said. “Whoever does the best job of framing the coverage obviously will the winner.”

85/40 Commute Notes:

Charlie Cook says it wouldn't be wise for Senator Hagan to invite President Obama to campaign for her. “If President Obama does come to North Carolina for any reason between now and November 4th, Harry Reid may find some senate votes that day. My guess is her schedule would get very filled that day,” Cook said.

Senator Hagan released a new campaign ad today called "Tell Thom Tillis."According to the Center for Public Integrity, more than 40,000 campaign spots have run so far with an estimated cost $18.4 million.

Tonight is the first of three scheduled debates. Hagan will debate Tillis again in Raleigh on October 7. ABC's Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos will moderate the second debate. A third debate at WECT in Wilmington does not have a date yet.

FOX46's Joe Bruno and Robin Kanady will have coverage from Raleigh tonight. FOX46Carolinas will live stream the debate at 7:00 p.m.

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