I think there is a possibility- remote but real- that 2010 could be a Republican year and Richard Burr would still lose. That ties in with the 'bad year to be an incumbent regardless of party' theory I talked about a few weeks ago.
Here's some statistical data on that in North Carolina: 9% of voters in the state disapprove of both Kay Hagan and Richard Burr's job performance- those voters not surprisingly also give Barack Obama a 35% approval rating and only 12% like Bev Perdue. So these are the voters who basically don't like anybody.
They're a Republican leaning lot. 53% of them say they voted for John McCain last year to just 36% picking Barack Obama, and 45% are conservatives.
These folks should be Burr voters- only 28% of them support the President on health care. But they prefer a generic Democrat to him 52-28, and Cal Cunningham and Kevin Foy lead him in head to head contests.
These folks are just mad in general and rather than taking it out on the party in control, they're taking it out on the person they can control, which in this case just happens to be Burr. I don't know if they'll keep that attitude all the way until November 2010- they might decide to support Burr as the lesser of two evils- but they could swing a close election. They're certainly a group we'll be watching as this contest unfolds.