This chapter features a defining feature of 2008—the lack of incumbents eligible to run. No sitting president or vice president would be on the ballot. Governor Mike Easley was ineligible to run after two consecutive terms. Of North Carolina's three toptier races—president, governor, and U.S. Senate—only the race for senator featured an incumbent, and Elizabeth Dole appeared likely to win a second term. Despite the party's setbacks two years earlier, North Carolina remained a Republican-leaning state in presidential and senatorial races. The state seemed comfortable with Dole's issue positions. On a very few issues, her voting record had been less conservative than the voting records of Senators Jesse Helms and Richard Burr. She projected a moderate image to white women, a key voting bloc.
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