Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: email@example.com
Democrats have picked up four U.S. Senate seats thus far tonight. The caucus ranks will include two former governors (Mark Warner of Virginia and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire); a state senator (Kay Hagan of North Carolina) and a congressman (Tom Udall of New Mexico).
Kay Hagan's victory is particularly striking. She took on incumbent Republican Elizabeth Dole at a time when other Democrats backed away from what appeared to be a helpless race. In addition to her own strengths, she was helped immeasurably by Obama's efforts in the state and the overal GOP tide -- and by Dole's own mistakes.
A Democratic North Carolina state legislator told me a couple of weeks back that Dole was "perceived, and rightly so, as a carpetbagger." That may be unfair -- Dole is a native of the state, even if her husband represented Kansas in the Senate and she spent her career in Washington. But she was an incumbent who made herself vulnerable by being perceived as out of touch from her constituents, not spending enough time among them between elections.
And then she ran a campaign with negative ads that were notable not so much for their nastiness as their emptiness, likening Hagan to a yapping dog and then calling her "godless."
Dole's race is really one for smart politicians to study as an example of what not to do.
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