Senate Polling Update

I've got a few polls backed up in the queue, so rather than write them up individually, here is a compendium of some of the latest numbers:

  • Louisiana: Overly worried about Mary Landrieu's prospects? The latest numbers her campaign commissioned from the Mellman Group show her ahead of Democrat-turned-Republican John Kennedy by a 49 percent to 33 percent margin. Bottom line, I don't think Landrieu's going to win by a huge margin, but I'm fairly sure she's going to win nevertheless. If the GOP couldn't beat her with all of their might in 2002, how are they supposed to defeat her this fall?

  • Alaska: The Democrats might not have won a Senate election in Alaska in more than 30 years, but that's not stopping Anchorage's Democratic mayor Mark Begich from running an impressive campaign -- impressive not only to outside observers like me but also apparently to Alaskans themselves. According to the latest Rasmussen Reports poll, Ted Stevens, the longest serving Republican in the history of the Senate, leads Begich just 46 percent to 44 percent, well within the margin of error. DSCC polling actually puts Begich on top.

  • Colorado: Democratic Congressman Mark Udall is moving on up, now leading former Republican Congressman Bob Schaffer by a 9-point margin, 49 percent to 40 percent, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports polling. Key sentences from the Rasmussen write up: "The Democrat has steadily pulled ahead over the past three polls, gaining three percentage points in each survey conducted. Prior to those surveys, the two candidates were essentially even." The other key from the poll is the 51 percent to 30 percent lead Udall enjoys among unaffiliated voters.

There's more...

KS-Sen: On the Path to 60 Votes

Two more polls and two more indications that Republican Senator Pat Roberts is vulnerable. Roberts is perhaps best known in this community for having slow-played reports on pre-Iraq War intelligence as head of the Intelligence Committee in the Senate.

Democratic polling released last week by the campaign of former Democratic Congressman Jim Slattery, shows Roberts up just 48 percent to 36 percent in a head-to-head matchup -- the exact same margin as was found in the last two independent polls on the race. Now Rasmussen Reports has released new numbers out of Kansas, and they look even better for Slattery's chances:

Pat Roberts (R): 48 percent
Jim Slattery (D): 39 percent

This race isn't quite there yet -- but it is definitely on its way. At this juncture, Kansas is one of the stops -- perhaps even the last one -- on the way to the Democrats securing a 60-seat majority, making it one to keep a real eye on. What's more, it's the type of race that helps break the Republicans' backs and tear down their 41-seat firewall in the Senate, as every additional race they are forced to dump money in takes money away from more even more endangered seats elsewhere. So this is very exciting stuff.

There's more...

KS-Sen: Second Poll Shows Slattery is Competitive

Last week Rasmussen Reports released polling out of the Kansas Senate race showing former Democratic Congressman Jim Slattery, who has only been running for fewer than three months, well within striking distance of incumbent Republican Senator Pat Roberts, who led 52 percent to 40 percent. Today Daily Kos released its own polling on the race commissioned from nonpartisan pollster Research 2000 and, lo and behold, the numbers show Slattery down by that same 12-point margin.

Pat Roberts (R): 50 percent
Jim Slattery (D): 38 percent

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this poll is how high Slattery's name recognition remains in Kansas -- 85 percent of likely voters know enough about him to rate him favorably or unfavorably without so much as a title or even party affiliation from the pollster to go on -- and that his favorable ratings are pretty darn good (48 percent positive, 37 percent negative) considering that he has been out of office for 14 years and the state hasn't elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1932. Roberts' numbers aren't bad either (56 percent favorable, 40 percent unfavorable). But hits like this timely one from the Slattery campaign could help bring those numbers down.

After a nearly four-year investigation, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence today released their final phase II report on prewar Iraq intelligence.

[...]

[Said Slattery:] "Why didn't Roberts' [who was the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2002-2003, during the lead-up to the war in Iraq] tell the American people there were serious doubts about the reliability of the intelligence and that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9-11? Why didn't he raise objections when Administration officials portrayed an open-and-shut case that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons and working with al Qaeda?

"As the top Republican on the committee he certainly should have known the intelligence didn't support these claims."

For three years Roberts repeatedly delayed the publication of the report in an attempt to protect the Bush Administration.

"As a citizen and political outsider, I find it completely unacceptable that our government failed us on so many counts during the lead up to the war in Iraq," Slattery said. "Ultimately, Chairman Roberts and the Senate Intelligence Committee failed in their oversight responsibility, both going into the war and in getting to the bottom of what happened in a timely manner."

This could be a fun one, particularly with a Kansan (Barack Obama) topping the Democratic ticket and another Kansan (Governor Kathleen Sebelius) potentially being the number two on the ticket, as well. If you want to help Slattery make the most of this opportunity to go after Roberts, head over to Act Blue today.

There's more...

VA-Sen: Gilmore Having Trouble Rallying the GOP

Over the weekend, former Virginia Governor and flameout 2008 presidential candidate Jim Gilmore eked out an underwhelming victory with a margin of just over a half a percentage point over a largely unknown opponent to secure the Republican Senate nomination in the commonwealth. As if that were not indication enough that the GOP base isn't coming together behind Gilmore, The Hill reports that some of the big local Republican players are shying away from making endorsements as well.

Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) is avoiding an endorsement in the closely watched Senate contest to succeed him, so far declining to support fellow Republican Jim Gilmore several days after the former Virginia governor clinched the GOP nomination.

Warner, 81, who announced last September he will retire when his fifth term ends in January, twice shunned inquiries about his stance in the race, directing reporters to a statement that his press office said is not forthcoming.

"I'm not going to keep answering this question about Gilmore," Warner said. "I'll get my press office to send you a statement."
Warner's communications staff said no statement has been released and that there is no specific timetable for one.

A sitting senator resisting to back the party's choice to succeed him would be extraordinary in itself, but Warner's seat also is a top target for Democrats next year looking to increase its majority in the Senate.

The Hill also cites Congressman Tom Davis, who is retiring in Northern Virginia this year and who was expected to run for the Senate before Gilmore jumped in the race, as another key pol unwilling to officially endorse at this juncture.

To an extent, this is a moot point. The Democratic nominee, former Governor Mark Warner, is remarkably popular in the state. Current polling puts the Democratic Warner up a solid 18-points over GIlmore in a head-to-head. Nonetheless, it's never a good thing for a party to be this divided and this unprepared heading into a key Senate election, one in a state that has at least a bit of a lean in their direction. And given the current state of affairs, it looks like the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is not going to need to invest much, if any, resources to Virginia this cycle -- freeing up cash to go to states like Mississippi, Alaska, North Carolina and others, increasing the likelihood of big gains come November.

There's more...

More Polling Pegs the Musgrove-Wicker Race As Very Tight

Here's Rasmussen Reports in a release from last week that I haven't had the chance of writing up until now:

Mississippi's appointed U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R) finds himself in a very tight election battle to win the job on his own. University of Virginia's Larry Sabato has noted that this will be a "real political battle" which is "a rarity in a state that's usually red as red can be."

The first Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of the race finds a pure toss-up--former Governor Ronnie Musgrove (D) attracts 47% of the vote while Wicker earns 46%.

Musgove leads by ten points among women but trails by eight among men. The Democratic challenger leads among voters under 50 while the GOP incumbent leads among those who have passed the half-century mark. Musgove is supported by 81% of Democrats, Wicker by 76% of Republicans, and Wicker holds a very modest 44% to 40% lead among the state's unaffiliated voters.

I'd love to see the methodology of this poll, specifically whether the party affiliations of Ronnie Musgrove and Roger Wicker were mentioned in the question or not. Because this is a special Senate election rather than a normal general election (it is being held to fill the remaining term of Trent Lott), the ballot will be a nonpartisan one, with only the candidate's names and not their party affiliation listed on the ballot. Indeed we've already seen the polling on this race fluctuate with the different way the question is asked. For now, though, with Musgrove consistently polling near or even above Wicker, it's pretty clear however you slice it that this is a very competitive race.

There's more...

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