The fate of Kansas’s Senate race is in the hands of Kathleen Sebelius. If the term-limited Governor passes on the Senate race, Democrats have no hope of winning their first Kansas Senate race since 1936. If she does run, well, Research 2000 new poll suggests the GOP’s winning streak could be broken:
- Sebelius leads Rep. Jerry Moran 48% to 36%; against Rep. Todd Tiahrt, she leads 47% to 37%.
- Sebelius enjoys a strong approval rating, 56% to 37%. Both Republicans enjoy a positive approval rating, though a third of state voters have no opinion of them.
- The poll’s last finding is that Tiahrt and Moran are deadlocked in the GOP primary, with the former leading 24% to 19% with a massive 57% of respondents undecideds.
This survey is obviously good news for Democrats, as it suggests that Sebelius’s transition from a state-level position to a federal race would not be fatal to her chances as is sometimes is in such red states. For Sebelius to run would be a huge threats to the GOP’s already deflated ranks, and the DSCC is sure to spend a lot of time recruiting her over the next few months. (Note that Sebelius has been mentioned as a potential HHS Secretary ever since Tom Dashle had to withdrew his nomination.)
On the other hand, this poll should also reassure Republicans. Sebelius is a popular Governor serving in her second term while her opponents only represent parts of the state and have much lower name recognition. Yet, Sebelius fails to break 50%, which confirms that a number of Kansas voters who are open to supporting her at the state level will be harder to persuade in a Senate race. The Republican nominee should thus be able to make this race competitive by making it a partisan battle and invoking national themes.
The poll’s last lesson is that there is no favorite in the Republican primary - and that is a recipe for a bruising primary that leave the eventual nominee damaged and could help Sebelius build a lead. (I analyzed the GOP’s Kansas primary two weeks ago.)
Republicans got far better news from Rasmussen’s second poll of Virginia’s gubernatorial election, which will be held this November. The presumptive Republican nominee, Robert McDonnell, leads all three of his potential Democratic rivals:
- He leads 39% to 30% against Creigh Deeds (two months ago, the two were tied at 39%); 42% to 35% against former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe (two months ago, he led by 5%); and 39% to 36% against Brian Moran (two months ago, Moran was ahead by 4%).
PPP’s blog criticizes the timing of this poll, pointing out that McDonnell resigned from his position as Attorney General on Tuesday to concentrate himself to the race and thus gained extensive media coverage just before the poll went in the field on Wednesday. That might indeed have helped McDonnell, but there is no question that he looks to be starting in a dominant position as the fall poll’s numbers were also relatively favorable to McDonnell.
If anything, this is the second time that McAuliffe (who is generally considered the favorite to win the Democratic nomination) is trailing McDonnell outside of the margin of error - on the other hand, this is the second poll in which Brian Moran is the strongest potential Democrat. A PPP survey released a few days ago confirms that McAuliffe might not be as strong a candidate as Democrats would need, though his tremendous fundraising abilities could be enough to carry him to a June victory:
- PPP’s poll only tested Democratic voters and found McAuliffe the most unpopular of the three Democrats running for Governor. However, the poll’s primary match-up finds that this is anyone race, with McAuliffe and Moran getting 18% and Deeds 11%.
Just like in Kansas, Virginia Democrats should beware of a bruising primary war that would leave their nominee with high unfavorable ratings. On the other hand, the Virginia primary is scheduled for June, and that could leave enough time for Democrats to turn around and prepare themselves for the general election.