Dems get still more ugly Senate numbers

The Boston Herald poll that was rumored to be coming today has not surfaced, which leaves us with no better idea of MA than this morning; while I did spend more time arguing that PPP should not be dismissed (this Blumenthal post is also worth reading), I agree with those who say the race is certainly Coakley’s to lose and that the poll’s release is one of the best thing that could have happened for her campaign. Unfortunately for Democrats, they have a lot more to worry about than Massachussetts since other polls released over the past few days find them in very tough spots in 3 key Senate races: AR, KY, NV. (These come on top of ARG’s NH poll, which I covered on Tuesday and which found Hodes trailing two Republicans outside of the MoE.) However, Democrats do get news from CT thanks to the combination of Dodd and Rell’s retirements and Lieberman’s unpopularity.

Nevada

Mason-Dixon paints quite an ugly picture for Harry Reid: He trails 50% to 40% against Sue Lowden, 49% to 41% against Danny Tarkanian and 45% to 40% against Sharron Angle. That latter result suggests Democrats can’t even root for Angle to win in the hope she’d be less electable, because there’s a good chance they would then find themselves with her as a senator. Here again, what’s striking is that none of the GOP nominees are particularly formidable or even high-profile, which makes their leads all the more telling of the huge trouble Reid is in. And as if those margins were not ugly enough, the Senate Majority Leader is plagued by a dismal 33% to 52% favorability rating. How can one envision winning re-election in such conditions?

This poll comes at a particularly troubled time for Reid, who is fielding a media firestorm since he admitted having told reporters during the 2008 campaign that Obama’s electability was helped by his light skin and his lack of a “Negro dialect.” The obvious parallel for Reid’s comments is Joe Biden’s 2007 remark on Obama, but the GOP is trying to tie them to the uproar that cost Trent Lott his leadership in 2002. I fail to see any similarity between Reid and Lott’s comments: The latter expressed regret that a segregationist candidate didn’t win the 1948 presidential election, i.e. he signaled support for racist policies, while the latter assessed the state of race relations. He used indefensible and insensitively anachronistic language, but that doesn’t change the fact that these two things have nothing in common. In any case, this episode will surely damage his standing in Nevada - and as the Mason-Dixon poll reveals he has no more room for any error.

Arkansas

Blanche Lincoln is sinking, according to Rasmussen’s latest poll. Make of his methodology what you will, but dismissing his samples as too skewed towards Republicans do nothing to diminish trendlines, which are also very worrisome for the senator. She trails 51% to 39% against Gilbert Baker (compared to 7% in December), 48% to 38% against both Curtis Coleman and Tom Cox (she trailed both by 4% in December), 47% to 39% against Kim Hendren. I don’t need to tell you how atrocious it is for an incumbent to be stuck under 40%, let alone when a challenger manages to cross 50%, let alone when opponents she is trailing by double-digits are low-profile and little-known. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

Kentucky

At least, Democrats have nothing to lose in KY as it is currently by the GOP; but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have high hopes for contesting it. According to Rasmussen’s latest survey, however, the two Republican candidates have for the first time grabbed healthy lead. Trey Grayson leads Jack Conway and Dan Mongiardo 45% to 35% and 44% to 37% respectively (in September, he was tied with the former and led the latter by the same margin); Rand Paul leads Conway 46% to 38% (he trailed by 4% in September) and crushes Mongiardo 49% to 35% (he led by 4% last month).

What’s most striking is that Paul is performing so well; it’s still hard to believe a general election featuring him could be as smooth for the GOP as one featuring Grayson, but there’s certainly little evidence at this point that the Texas congressman’s son would perform poorly against Democrats. The second striking fact is the very pronounced trendline, as the Republicans improve by more than 10% in three of the four match-ups. (I have a hard time believing that Rasmussen didn’t misreport its Grayson-Mongiardo numbers, which make little sense: Not only is is the only match-up to show no GOP improvement whatsoever, but it also has Mongiardo and Grayson performing better than their party rivals, something the other match-ups contradict.)

Connecticut

Thankfully for Democrats’ spirits, Rasmussen also released a poll confirming that Chris Dodd’s retirement immediately transformed a lean-GOP seat into a safe-Democratic seat: Attorney General Richard Blumenthal crushes Rob Simmons 56% to 33%, Linda McMahon 58% to 34% and Peter Schiff 60% to 24%. These margins are slightly smaller than the ones PPP found earlier this week, but they’re certainly very decisive and show no hint of vulnerability on Blumenthal’s part since he very solidly clears the 50% threshold.

In fact, Connecticut could cheer Democrats overall in November, since PPP also found the party is clearly favored to win a gubernatorial election for the first time since 1986. While all candidates have somewhat low name recognition, the bottom-line is that Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz leads the two Republican candidates (Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele and former Ambassador Tom Foley) by 25% and 22%; Ned Lamont and Dan Malloy leads’ are less decisive, but they do reach double-digits.

On top of polling the senatorial and gubernatorial numbers, PPP also tested Joe Lieberman’s approval rating, and the numbers are brutal: While Lieberman managed to keep somewhat decent numbers after his endorsement of McCain, it seems like the health care debate did cost him whatever support he had left among Democrats. His approval rating stands at 25% (14% among Democrats), with 67% disapproving, which has got to make him one of the most unpopular senators in the country. Only 19% approved of Lieberman’s health-care related actions (versus 68%). Sure, Blumenthal can no longer be of service to dislodge Lieberman in 2012, but with numbers like this there are many other Democrats who’d have a strong shot.

7 Responses to “Dems get still more ugly Senate numbers”


  1. 1 Gerard

    If Reid retired, a big “if”, of course, who could jump in for the Dems and have a chance at saving this seat? There are 2 Dem House members, but would they want to chance losing their seats for this? Any statewide officials? I believe Las Vegas Mayor Goodman changed his party affiliation to independent. Just curious. Nevada is a swing state that is growing more Democratic, so it would be a shame to throw Reid’s seat away to the GOP.

    Arkansas Lt. Governor Halter must be looking harder at running a primary against Sen. Lincoln, given her poor poll numbers, although time is ticking away, for sure.

  2. 2 Maurice

    In Nevada, Shelley Berkley would be willing to do it for the good of the party, and she’s serve two terms, and I heard Dick Bryan’s name for the first time in a while as a one-term replacement. Either would probably lead Reid’s current opposition, as it is meager.

    One thing that gives me hope is that Reid looks worse than I’ve ever seen him. If Lincoln retires (unlikely), Reid probably will, too.

  3. 3 Gerard

    I’ve noticed that about Reid too. He looks really pale and drawn. I don’t wish him any ill will, but we’d be better served if he retired.

  4. 4 Cicero

    I think Harry Reid is 70 years old, and I imagine the stress of his position is taking a toll on him. I don’t understand why Reid doesn’t step down from his current post because it’s over his head and because the Democrats have a much better person for the job named Chuck Schumer. Chuck lives in a Blue state, and although I don’t necessarily like his politics, he’s a proven leader. Heck, I’d probably vote for him just based on his leadership capabilities. Reid is also ineffective because his role has required that he shift to his left more than he likes.

    CT–I think this race is safe.

    AR–Lincoln is in trouble, but no more than Reid or the position of Dodd before Dodd’s retirement. Best thing for the Democrats to do is to drop Lincoln and nominate Halter. Halter can win this state.

    KY–If Rand Paul is nominated, the Kentucky Republicans are playing with fire. Grayson is better suited for this state. I don’t see Grayson losing to Conway or Mongiardo, but I don’t see Paul defeating either one of them. If, for some reason, Paul is elected, November will be a troubling month for the Dems.

  5. 5 fritz

    The Republicans smell blood with Reid’s comments and are going to go after Reid with a vengeance over them. I don’t expect Reid will announce any decision until after the health care bill is done but then who knows.
    Gerard makes a good point about the Democratic bench in Nevada being mostly untested at best.
    There are two house seats in Nevada but Dina Titus is a rookie and I don’t know if the Democrats would want to put Shelly Berkley’s house seat in play for a long shot chance at Reid’s Senate seat.
    There are four statewide Democratic offices at the moment but all are held by freshmen/freshwomen. Ross Miller is Secretary of State; Catherine Cortez Mastro is AG; Kate Marshall is Treasurer & Kim Wallin is Controller. Of the four Catherine Cortez Masto seems to have the most interesting bio.
    There are also three wild cards as I see it.
    Dick Byran (former Governor & Senator in Nevada) is older than Reid and been retired from politics for awhile so I don’t know if he would be interested in getting back in the game.
    Rory Reid (Harry Reid’s son) is running for Governor against Jim Gibbons at the moment and I don’t know if he would switch races if the elder Reid retired.
    Lastly there is Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman who is now an independent but rumors say would like to run for higher office. I doubt the Democrats would want anything to do with this flaky (to put it generously) politician.
    I’m no expert on Nevada politics so if there are errors in the summary above or I’ve missed someone I’d be happy to have corrections.

  6. 6 Cliff

    Shelley Berkley would be crushed statewide. She’s voted consistently far to the left then the state as a whole and doesn’t appeal outside her Vegas district. Titus isn’t doing well either, and is in danger of losing her House seat. Her last poll had her tied with her Republican Opponent Joe Heck at 40% each.

    And that’s why Reid won’t retire. It’s not at all clear that the D’s have someone better to replace him.

    I think the race will probably get closer, but I don’t see Reid pulling this one out.

  7. 7 Taniel

    One additional name in Nevada is Speaker Barbara Buckley, who was expecting to run for Governor but chose not to (which has left Democrats in Rory Reid’s hands). Berkley is said to be a potential challenger to Ensign in 2012, so I’m not sure she’d want to mount a tough campaign in 2010 and potentially give up her 2012 shot.

    In any case, I don’t see Reid agreeing to retire. This isn’t a Connecticut-like situation: We aren’t talking about a staunchly blue state in which an open seat would automatically lean Democratic. No matter how formidable a candidate Nevada Democrats had lined up, in this environment the race would be no better than toss-up.

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