The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes writes here about the dynamics of North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race. In this excerpt, he analyzes the challenge ahead for Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan, whose campaign team is already campaigning as if House Speaker Thom Tillis will be the Republican nominee, despite an eight-person primary race.

Tillis is only one of Hagan’s worries. She was lucky to be elected in the first place in 2008. Obama attracted a huge African-American turnout, which allowed him to win the state and Hagan to unseat Republican Elizabeth Dole. An added boost came from Dole’s clumsy campaign tactics.

Hagan hasn’t developed a strong identity in Washington, nor was she a high-visibility figure in North Carolina either—until the past six months. What changed was the exposure as a lie of Obama’s promise that folks could keep their health insurance. Like other Democratic senators, Hagan had routinely said the same thing and was caught on tape saying so.

When Americans for Prosperity began running TV ads with video of her repeating Obama’s false claim, she panicked. When questioned about her statement, she ran away from reporters at one point. She wrongly blamed insurers, not Obamacare, for the cancellation of health care policies. And as her poll numbers tanked, she rose on the Republican target list. Her job approval rating is now in the high 30s to low 40s, the same as Obama’s in the state. This is dangerously low. History is no help. No Democratic senator has been reelected in North Carolina since Sam Ervin in 1968.

Hagan, 60, has a problem with the one-third of the electorate that is “unaffiliated.” Polls show she’s attracting roughly 40 percent of this bloc. She needs a minimum of 50 percent to win. It won’t come easily. She’ll have to do what Obama did to Mitt Romney: make the GOP candidate more unappealing than she is.

If you’d like to hear and see more of Barnes’ analysis, JLF has it here. Barnes was recently the keynote speaker at an election forum hosted by JLF. The election panel featured analysis from Democratic political consultant Brad Crone, Republican consultant Marc Rotterman, and JLF President John Hood — as well as Barnes.