It looks like Republicans will have to devote significant resources to defending incumbent Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina. Two recent polls show Burr trailing likely Democratic challenger Roy Cooper, who currently serves as NC's attorney general.
Back in December, Public Policy Polling found Cooper leading Burr by 39%-34%. Now Civitas has a similar result, with Cooper leading 41%-38%.
These numbers are not all that surprising. Burr is a practical nobody in the Senate, having thoroughly undistinguished himself in his first term. Meanwhile, NC has been trending Democratic on the demographic front, as evidenced dramatically in the last election, when the state went for Obama and knocked out incumbent Republican senator Liddy Dole.
Don't count Burr out entirely. He has the good fortune to be running in a non-presidential year, when the party out of power typically picks up seats and does better. But Republicans can hardly be happy about the prospect of playing defense to protect an incumbent in what not too long ago was considered a reliably conservative state.
If Cooper were to unseat Burr, Democrats would control all four senate seats in contiguous Virginia and North Carolina for the first time since 1971!