House: It is typically a luxury to get three or four independent House polls a week, so who knew eleven would be released in the first few hours after I published my latest House ratings?
None contradict my ratings, especially when combined with other polling data we have from the district, but Democrats do get stunningly good news in SUSA’s collection of surveys from seven districts that are hosting rematches of the 2006 contest. Democrats lead in all seven (three of which are currently held by Republican), and all margins are outside of the MoE! This could be a sign that the bottom is falling out of the GOP’s prospects, for if Republicans can’t even make these seven districts remotely competitive, they are bracing for historic losses:
- In IL-10, Dan Seals leads Rep. Kirk 52% to 44%. Obama leads 62% to 36%, 10% better than Kerry.
- In IN-09, Rep. Hill leads Mike Sodrel 53% to 38%. He led by 11% in an early September poll. McCain leads by 2% after Bush won the district 59% to 40%.
- In NC-08, Larry Kissell leads Rep. Hayes 49% to 41%, with 6% for libertarian Thomas Hill. Obama leads 53% to 44%, a huge swing from Bush’s 9% victory.
- In NH-01, Rep. Shea-Porter leads Jeb Bradley 50% to 41%. Obama leads 52% to 45% (Bush won the district by 3%).
- In NY-29, Eric Massa leads Rep. Kuhl 51% to 44%. Obama leads 49% to 47% (Bush won the district by 14%).
- In PA-04, Rep. Altmire leads Melissa Hart 54% to 42%. McCain leads by 8% (Bush had won the district by 9%).
- In WI-08, Rep. Kagen leads 54% to 43%. Obama leads 52% to 45%, a huge swing from Bush’s 9% victory.
All three of the GOP-held districts (IL-10, NC-08 and NY-29) are rated toss-ups in my ratings, and they correspond to other results we have seen as of late in internal Democratic polling. A survey released yesterday had Massa leading by 5% in NY-29 and another released last week had Kissell leading by 9% in NC-08. Meanwhile, PA-04 and IN-09 are rated lean Democratic, while NH-01 and WI-08 are rated toss-ups. Other polls have found Shea-Porter and Bradley locked in a dead heat.
That said, there is reason to be skeptical of some of these results based on the results of the presidential match-up. While it is not surprising to see a 17% swing in Indiana (Obama is now competitive in the Hoosier State after Kerry lost by 21%) or even a 10% swing in NH-01, since the last three statewide polls have shown Obama leading by double-digits, an 18% swing in NC-08 and especially a 16% swing in WI-08 are larger than we ought to believe.
Meanwhile, four other House polls were released over the past 12 hours. While they are less satisfying for Democrats, they still hint at big opportunities for the DCCC. The first three polls of Florida (all held by Republicans running for re-election) were conducted by Telemundo/Carlos McDonald, and they have a big margin of error (5.7%):
- In FL-18, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen leads Annette Taddeo 48% to 35%.
- In FL-21, Lincoln Diaz-Balart leads Raul Martinez 48% to 43%.
- In FL-25, Mario Diaz-Balart leads Joe Garcia 43% to 41%.
- In NM-01, a GOP-held open seat, Democrat Martin Heinrich leads Darren White 43% to 41% in a poll by the Albuquerque Journal.
FL-21 and FL-25 are both rated toss-ups, and both the Diaz-Balart brothers lead within the margin of error and are under 50% - confirming their vulnerability but suggesting also that they have not fallen behind as some of their colleagues. NM-01 is one of the hottest races around, and Democrats were hoping to put it away months ago. Darren White has proved to be a strong contender for Republicans, but can he overcome the year’s Democratic lean in a Democratic district? Obama is expected to do well in this district, and he could carry Heinrich with him.
Senate: The Ted Stevens trial reached a critical point yesterday when the prosecution played a tape recording of a phone conversation between Ted Stevens and chief prosecution witness Bill Allen, one of Stevens’ best friend who agreed to cooperate with investigators and let them record his conversation with the Senator. I am not following the details of the trial, and would be unable to say how convincing the Department of Justice’s evidence has been (and there is little doubt that the prosecution has not respected the defense’s rights), but this tape is certainly a key element of the case, as Stevens acknowledges his awareness that he could go to jail for his dealings with Allen.
Meanwhile, in Colorado, Mark Udall attempts humor in his latest ad rebutting Republican attacks. The ad begins with the Democrat telling viewers to be scared and run because “it’s Mark Udall” - and given some of the NRSC’s recent ads zooming in frightening shots of Udall, his imitation isn’t that far off. He proceeds to explain that he is kidding and urges voters to know better:
Republicans have not managed to hurt Udall enough that he feels compelled to answer specific charges being levelled at him (mostly, that he is a “Boulder liberal” with a leftist record), but it is a telling sign that he is now on the defensive. The Colorado Senate race has attracted a large number of independent groups, and the airwaves have become a hard-hitting free-for-all. But the polls have barely moved for over a year now: Udall is in a good position to win the race, and he hasn’t trailed in a single poll for months - but he hasn’t put it away either, and he has to be careful at not letting his negative ratings go up.