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Rating Change: North Carolina Senate Race Moves to Tossup

GOP attacks on Ross aren’t giving Burr any breathing room

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Months ago, Republicans boasted about the amount of opposition research available on North Carolina Democrat Deborah Ross. But with just two weeks to go before Election Day, she has a legitimate shot at defeating GOP Sen. Richard M. Burr.

Ross wasn’t the Democrats’ first choice to take on the senator and her past stint as head of the state American Civil Liberties Union was supposed to render her unelectable once voters learned about her positions in controversial court cases.

[Roll Call’s 2016 Election Guide: Senate]

But even though one recent poll showed Burr with a bigger-than-expected lead and the senator and his closest advisers say they always expected a tight race, most GOP strategists are very concerned about Burr’s re-election chances. Instead of a lightweight candidate, Ross might be the next Kay Hagan, the previously unknown Democratic state legislator who defeated GOP Sen. Elizabeth Dole in 2008. Now Ross is running at least even with, if not ahead of, Burr in most polls.

[Was Richard Burr’s Re-Election Bid Always Supposed to Be This Competitive?]

This looks like it will be a close race and it’s hard to continue to give Burr an advantage, particularly as Donald Trump lags behind Hillary Clinton at the top of the ballot, which explains why Ross is now trying to tie him to Trump in her latest ads

We’re changing our rating of the North Carolina Senate race from Tilts Republican to Tossup, where it joins Indiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Missouri. Assuming Democrats win Illinois and Wisconsin, the party needs to add three victories in the tossup states for outright control of the Senate.  

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