The short version: Since last month’s Wargaming column, almost all the movement has been to the right.
The slightly longer version is that there are three factors in play here, none good for Harry Reid keeping his majority leader position, and time is running out to find honest ways of countering those factors.
Now let’s get to the meat.
The only outlier according to RCP’s poll averaging is that open Michigan race between Democratic Congressman Gary Peters and former Republican Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land. Despite Land’s experience with running a competitive statewide campaign, Peters consistently polls ahead of her in the last three weeks by an average of 5.4 points, forcing RCP to move that race from the Toss Up column to Leans Dem. You might assume that such a large lead would make Peters a shoe in, but his highest poll number to date, and that one comes from the left-leaning Detroit News, is only 47%. Every other poll shows him in the low-to-mid 40s. As the representative of the incumbent party in the Senate, those numbers aren’t very comforting. There are still a lot of undecideds in Michigan — which brings us to the first factor working against the Democrats as we enter the final weeks.
Tom Dougherty from Practical Politicking writes:
Once inside six weeks until Election Day, we historically expect one-out-of-four “undecideds” to go with the incumbent, one to stay home and not vote, and two to go to the challenger. Though with the strong anti-incumbent attitude among likely voters this year, those numbers could even be more favorable for the Republican challengers in some states.
The net effect is to push the Republican challengers in Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana to leads outside the margin of error. In Colorado, Cory Gardner gains a slight advantage in an otherwise very close race. And in North Carolina and New Hampshire, Thom Tillis and Scott Brown climb into virtual dead-heats.
Dougherty adds that there is “plenty of time to see late-breaking moves” in Michigan, and even Minnesota and Oregon — although the latter two probably remain serious longshots.
Similarly, Democrat Mary Landrieu’s chances of holding on to her seat against Republican Bill Cassidy in a strange three way race, which may not end until a December 6 runoff. But RCP has moved it to the Leans GOP column, and Cassidy now feels comfortable enough not to debate Landrieu. That’s unusual for a challenger, who usually needs the media attention provided by statewide coverage.
Landrieu’s steadfast support for ♡bamaCare!!! — hers was one of the deciding votes for the law — might prove her undoing. A new poll from Public Opinion Strategies shows why ♡bamaCare!!! is the second factor hurting the Democrats this fall:
The poll found that likely voters in battleground districts who consider Obamacare to be the “most important” issue in the upcoming election oppose it by the overwhelming tally of 70 to 30 percent (see slide 9). Likely voters who consider Obamacare to be a “very important” issue (but not the “most important” one) oppose it by more than 2 to 1 — 67 to 32 percent. Those who consider it to be “somewhat important” somewhat like it — but still oppose it by 51 to 47 percent. And those who consider it to be “not at all important” love it — favoring it by 70 to 17 percent.
Those numbers show a distinct lack of enthusiasm (or general basic knowledge of current events) for voters more likely to support Democrats, and some serious get-out-the-vote-ability for the GOP. There’s a great ground game to be played, if marginal GOP candidates are serious about winning.
RCP still lists Arkansas as a tossup, despite GOP Congressman Tom Cotton showing a consistent lead in every poll but Rasmussen. But if you had to chose, it doesn’t seem likely that Democrat Senator Mark Pryor will still be senator in January. I’m assuming of course he’ll still be a Democrat — but who knows? I say that because the latest from lefty Public Policy Polling indicates that this is the year Arkansas completes its transformation into a red state:
PPP’s newest Arkansas poll finds Republicans leading across the board in the state’s key races for this year, led by Tom Cotton with a 43/38 advantage over Mark Pryor and Asa Hutchinson with a 44/38 lead over Mike Ross at the top of the ticket.
Cotton’s lead is up slightly from 41/39 on our previous poll. Voters aren’t in love with him- 40% see him favorably to 41% with an unfavorable opinion. But Pryor continues to have tough approval ratings, with 36% giving him good marks to 51% who disapprove. Both candidates are receiving 77% of the vote from within their own party but Cotton has a substantial advantage with independents, getting 53% of their vote to 20% for Pryor. [Emphasis added]
Each race is different of course, with its own voters with their own concerns. But if Cotton really is doing so well with independents, it might have something to do with the national numbers concerning the Democrats’ standard-bearer, Barack Obama. Brendan Bordelon has those numbers for you:
Barack Obama’s approval rating slid into dangerous territory this week, with the latest Reuters-Ipsos poll showing just 35 percent of Americans approve of the president’s job performance even as he leads the nation into a war against Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East.
Fifty-eight percent of Americans expressed disapproval of the White House’s current occupant — 37 percent of them “strongly.” Just 17 percent strongly approved of Obama’s current performance. The poll is based on a five-day rolling average.
Public support for a politician can work a lot like nation’s reproductive rate — once it drops below a certain figure, there’s no turning it back around. The GOP might not just be on the verge of winning control of the Senate, but of fatally wounding an already lame duck.