DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — This election is not what any candidate expected earlier in the year when Republicans were expected to dominate the win column.

While the GOP is expected to take control of the U.S. House that margin may be shrinking. Democrats have also increased their chances of holding on to the U.S. Senate.

Several factors, one more so than others, have meant both sides have had to change their focus. What works and doesn’t work? We won’t know until after Election Day on November 8.

As a play on the famous beer slogan, “This Budd’s not for you” is the latest campaign effort by North Carolina Democrats to make claims against Ted Budd. Special interests like “big oil, big pharma and big banks” are on the list.

This comes on the heels of a Republican ad against Cheri Beasley making their own claims about PAC money which Beasley has denied.

Even though the polls have Beasley and Budd incredibly close there are plenty of undecided voters. Much more so than in some of the tight senate races in other states.

So, there’s a lot of work to do.

“Even if that’s correct that’s still 17, 18, 19 maybe 20 percent undecided or soft. So that race is not formed. But it looks like the interesting thing is, it looks like Democrats are way more excited about Cheri Beasley than Republicans are about congressman Budd,” said Mac McCorkle, professor of the practice at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke.

Remember that old saying all “politics are local?” The election in 2020 blew that away with a referendum centered on Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

“I’d make it about national politics,” said Kerry Haynie, Duke University Chair of Political Science who joined his colleagues Tuesday to talk about the fall election.

They are in agreement that North Carolina’s congressional and senate races are about national issues. Take your pick — inflation, January 6 and abortion are at the top of the list.

Candidates typically go far to the right or to the left to win their primaries and move more to the center for the fall election.

For Budd, someone endorsed by Trump and a congressman who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election, this may be a difficult task.

“I don’t know if that’s going to work for him. Because if he moves to the center, he may lose voters that he needs and by not moving to the center he’s going to lose voters, so he is caught” said Haynie.

Beasley on the other hand faces the challenge many Democrats do when it comes to which party is more trusted when it comes to the economy and immigration.

What inflation looks like when early one-stop voting starts is a big question mark. But political scientists agree that the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision is guaranteed to galvanize voters.

“What we do know is that this issue is not going away. As long as there is not a federal codification of abortion rights then at the state level and in states like North Carolina, this is an issue that’s going to continue to impact voters” said Asher Hildebrand, associate professor of the practice at the Sanford School of Public Policy.