Archive for the 'MA-Gov' Category

Poll watch: Democrats are strong in IL, have a shot in SD; Castle and Burr dominate

I wouldn’t go as far as to describe this week’s polling round-up as generally good for Democrats; after all, numerous of their House incumbents look vulnerable, Rob Portman retains a small lead in Ohio, Castle dominates, Richard Burr is up by double-digits and Pete Domenici is closer to Diane Denish than New Mexico Democrats would like. Yet, there is plenty for the party to point to as evidence that they are managing to stay afloat and that the GOP still has a lot of work to do to ensure they’ll benefit from as big a red wave as they’re hoping to. In particular, Research 2000’s Illinois poll and Quinnipiac’s Ohio survey find Democrats Alexi Giannoulias, Pat Quinn and Ted Strickland in stronger positions than conventional wisdom dictates; Democrats look like they have an unexpectedly credible shot at South Dakota’s governorship; and Rep. Harry Teague is in a far more competitive position than you would expect given that he is often described as one of November’s surest Democratic losers (2 polls have him within the MoE against former Rep. Steve Pearce).

House

New Mexico: It’s rare enough to have one House survey a week that PPP’s decision to test all three of New Mexico’s House races was a one of the week’s treats. The results are encouraging for both parties, though the most poll’s most surprising finding will delight the NRCC: Rep. Ben Lujan, who represents a district Obama won by 23% and who I had never heard described as competitive, leads his two Republican challengers by decidedly underwhelming margins: 42% to 36% against Tom Mullins, 40% to 32% against Adam Kokesh. That’s not to say he will lose, nor that the race will be competitive come the fall, but it does speak to the probability that a number of Democratic districts that are now on no one’s radar screen should find themselves vulnerable in the campaign’s final stretch (see what happened to the GOP in 2006). Interestingly, Rep. Martin Heinrich, a more obvious target since he is a freshman, leads Jon Barela by a somewhat more solid 45% to 36%.

But the more interesting race is happening NM-02, which is not only the state’s most conservative seat (it went for Bush by 17%) but former Rep. Steve Pearce is running for his old seat after running for Governor in 2008. This has led many to think Rep. Teague is one of the fall’s surest losers, which makes Pearce’s 43% to 41% lead seem like it should be a relief for Democrats as it certainly shows Teague is far from a sure loser. (In particular, consider that the traditional rules about how a challenger topping an incumbent in an early poll is clearly favored does not apply here since Pearce is probably better-known than the incumbent.) On the other hand, the poll should not be spun as bad news for the GOP: The bottom-line is that NM-02 is one of the party’s top pick-up opportunities indeed. In fact, Pearce released an internal poll last week showing himself leading 48% to 44%.

SD-AL: Stephanie Herseth Sandlin remains on top of her Republican opponents in a new Rasmussen poll, but Secretary of State Chris Nelson is within striking distance since he holds the incumbent Democrat under 50% and within single-digit: She leads 45% to 38%. Herseth-Sandlin is far stronger against Kristi Noem (49% to 34%) and against state Rep Blake Curd (51% to 33%), which certainly suggests she is in a far stronger position than many of her fellow Democrats. As the poll’s gubernatorial numbers also speak to (see below), South Dakotans don’t look committed to ushering in GOP rule.

Senate

Ohio: Democrats might be losing ground in Senate races left and right, but they remain in striking distance of picking-up Ohio’s open seat according to Quinnipiac’s new poll. Republican Rob Portman is up within the margin of error (40-37) against Democrat Lee Fisher and he leads 40-35 against Jennifer Brunner. These margins are similar to those Quinnipiac found back in November, though it should be said that both Democratic candidates spent much of 2009 crushing Portman by double-digits - an advantage that was erased as the electorate soured on the the party in the latter half of the year. Despite their prominent stature, all three candidates have low name recognition so the next few months could be crucial - starting with the run-up to the Democratic primary.

Florida: Rasmussen found more evidence of Charlie Crist’s collapse this week by showing Marco Rubio crushing him 54% to 36% - an unthinkable result just a few months ago that is now already coming to be expected; the pollster also confirms that Crist’s decline is due to his rising unpopularity among the electorate-at-large and not just among Republicans, since his once impressive approval rating is now down to 52-45. In the general election, both men lead Kendrick Meek by large margins: Crist is up 48-32, Rubio is up 51-31. But is it time to start testing 3-way match-ups with Crist as an independent?

Delaware: For once, Rasmussen and Research 2000 have similar results! The former shows Republican Rep. Mike Castle in control 53% to 32% (though the margin has shrunk by 7% since January) while the latter has him leading 53% to 35%. That does little to change the race’s “likely Republican” rating (especially when we consider Castle’s formidable 65/30 and 65/32 favorability ratings) but given the two candidates’ chances of stature the trendline also confirms it is too early for Democrats to give up.

North Carolina: Rasmussen released the most favorable poll Richard Burr is gotten in quite a while - far more favorable, in fact, than the survey PPP released last week. Not only does the Republican senator have large leads, but he also reaches 50%: He’s up 50-34 against Elaine Marshall and 51-29 against Cal Cunningham. Of course, Democrats long ago realized defeating Burr is a top proposition in this environment, but these numbers are nonetheless ugly for the party. On the other hand, an Elon University poll finds that only 24% of North Carolinians think Burr deserves re-election, versus 51% who think he should be replaced.

Pennsylvania: Franklin & Marshall sends some very ugly numbers Democrats’ way, though the bizarrely high number of undecided makes it hard to do much else than point to the wide disparity between the match-ups among registered voters and among likely voters. In the former group, Arlen Specter leads Pat Toomey 33% to 29% while Joe Sestak is only 3% behind (25-22); in the latter group, Toomey crushes both Democrats - 44-34 against Specter, 38-20 against Sestak. Could there be clearer signs of the turnout gap that’s threatening to submerge Democrats this fall?

Governor

Illinois/Ohio: I mentioned Quinnipiac and Research 2000’s polls finding Democratic Governor Pat Quinn and Ted Strickland in the lead in an earlier post, but the results are counter-intuitive enough that they bear repeating. In Ohio, Quinnipiac shows Strickand leading John Kasich 44% to 39%, which is obviously an underwhelming margin but is nonetheless an improvement over the 40-40 tie Quinnipiac found in November and is a far more encouraging result for Democrat than the large deficits Rasmussen has found in recent months; Strickland had almost started to look like a lost cause, but these numbers from a respected pollster suggest Ohio is definitely still winnable for Democrats.

In Illinois, Research 2000 has Governor Pat Quinn leading state Senator Kirk Dillard and state Senator Bill Brady 46-35 and 47-32. He might remain under 50%, but remember that in early February Quinn looked so damaged that he seemed to be marching towards a primary defeat. Yet, this is now the second post-primary poll to find him in command of the general election (the first was released last week), especially if his opponent is the more conservative Bill Brady - as still looks likely since Dillard has failed to overtake Brady after weeks of provisional ballot.

South Dakota: Would you have expected the week’s polling surprise to be that Democrats have a strong shot at picking up the governorship of this conservative state? Yea, me neither - especially considering that this finding comes out of a Rasmussen poll. Matched-up against three Republicans, state Senate Minority Leader Scott Heidepreim holds his own: While he trails Lieutenant Governor Dennis Daugaard 41% to 32%, he is ahead against two other Republicans: 37% to 29% against state Senator Gordon Howie and 34% to 31% against state Senator Dave Knudson. That is of course nothing huge, but it certainly suggest that South Dakota voters aren’t desperate to jump in the GOP’s bandwagon.

New Mexico: It helps to have a famous name! While Pete Domenici Jr. has never been in the public spotlight before, he shares the first and last name of his father, former Senator Pete Domenici, which explains how his name recognition is so much higher in a new PPP poll than that of his fellow Republican candidates. The general election match-ups show that the contest is winnable by the GOP but that Democratic Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish is the front-runner: She leads Domenici Jr. 45-40, state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones 47-33 and DA Susana Martinez 46-42. One important factor in this campaign is whether Denish can free herself from Bill Richardson’s shadow: The outgoing governor has a catastrophic approval rating (28% to 63%).

Nevada: Earlier this week, I highlighted a POS poll that showed Governor Jim Gibbons improving his position in the GOP primary, which he was long expected not to have a chance at winning. Now, a Mason-Dixon poll confirms that Gibbons is increasingly competitive against Brian Sandoval: He trails 37% to 30%, whereas he was behind by 17% in Mason-Dixon’s prior poll. Given Gibbons’s worst-in-the-country approval rating of 17%, whether he can find a way to survive the primary will obviously go a long way towards determining the general election: While Sandoval crushes Rory Reid 51% to 29%, the Democrat tops Gibbons 42% to 38%. (The fact that Gibbons is within 4% of Reid says a lot about the latter’s weakness.)

Massachussetts: Despite a weak approval rating (35-54), Deval Patrick manages to stay on top of Suffolk’s general election match-ups because many voters who are discontent with him are choosing to support Democrat-turned-independent Tom Cahill, who enjoys a 31/16 favorability rating. Patrick tops Republican Charlie Baker 33% to 25%, with Cahill receiving 23% and 3% going to Green Party candidate Stein; if the Republican nominee is Christy Mihos, which at the moment seems unlikely given baker’s 47-17 primary lead, Patrick leads Cahill 34% to 26%, with 19% for Mihos. The main reason Democrats can hope that Cahill will actually maintain his level of support and help Patrick survive (whereas Daggett collapsed in New Jersey) is that Cahill is the state Treasurer and is better-known than either Republican candidates.

Wisconsin: Rasmussen’s latest numbers are similar to its previous ones: Republican Scott Walker would dominate Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett 49% to 40%, whereas the Democrat would be more competitive if he were to face former Rep. Mark Neumann (44% to 42%). While that’s nothing for Barrett to be ashamed of, the poll also suggests that Barrett is not starting out as the formidable contender Democrats were hoping for. On the other hand, Wisconsin is a state in which we have seen very few non-Rasmussen polls (only a November PPP survey that had Barrett stronger comes to mind), so it would be nice to have more polling firms test this race as well as Feingold’s vulnerability.

Georgia: Former Governor Barnes manages to stay competitive in Rasmussen’s latest poll, but the match-ups are not as favorable than the pollster found last month: Barnes now trails the three most prominent Republican candidates (45-37 against State Insurance Commissioner Oxendine, 43-37 against Rep. Deal, 45-36 against SoS Handel) while tying state Sen. Johnson at 37%. Barnes would have been better-served by a more favorable environment, but he remains in a competitive position.

Rhode Island: Brown University’s poll finds a wide-open race with an early edge for Republican-turned-independent Linc Chaffee. If the Democratic nominee is Frank Caprio, The former Senator leads 34% with 38%, with 12% to the Republican Robitaille; if the Democratic nominee is Patrick Lynch, Chaffee leads by a wider 33% to 18%, with 14% for the Republican.

An epic polling roundup to get our minds off Massachussetts

Research 2000 and ARG just released two of Massachussetts’s final polls - if not the final polls. ARG found a 7% lead for Brown (52% to 45%), up 4% from where he was just last week. Research 2000, meanwhile, found… a tie: Scott Brown and Martha Coakley receive 48% apiece, a testament to how unpredictable the contest remains heading into Election Day. While at this point any poll that doesn’t have Brown ahead is a relief for Democrats, I don’t have to tell you that even that survey is rough for Coakley: Just last week, Research 2000 found her ahead by 8%, which makes this yet another poll to found stunning momentum for the Republican.

Yet, Research 2000 also confirms the hypothesis I enunciated this morning, as an update to last night’s post: Coakley performs better in polls that include Libertarian nominee Joe Kennedy, who will be on the ballot tomorrow. Pajamas Media and PPP, which gave Brown large leads yesterday, did not include Kennedy at all; surveys that have the race within the margin of error do include Kennedy, who for instance receives 3% in Research 2000. There’s every reason to believe that Kennedy is drawing his voters from the conservative camp, so if the race is close his presence on the ballot could allow Coakley to shave off a few points off Brown compared to PPP’s survey. (ARG’s website appears to be down, so I cannot determine whether they included him.)

It’s hard to think of anything but Massachussetts, but let’s try to do just that: Over the past week, there was so much news to cover that I ignored an avalanche of polls, to which I’ll now get to. Now that we’ve entered 2010, there will be more and more surveys released weekly - even daily - so I will obviously not attempt to cover each one in as much detail as I did over the past year; I will however start with polls that are testing election we’ve seen little data on. Today, those consist in 3 House districts and 2 Western Governor’s races.

(Yes, this is a fairly long post… but I let polls accumulate without covering them for more than a week, so I wanted to get to them all at once to make sure I can focus on Massachussetts and other important news after this!)

Three House races find mixed results for Dems

NC-08: PPP managed to find a freshman Democrat from a swing district with solid standing! In NC-08, a district that swung from Bush to Obama, not only does Rep. Larry Kissell have a strong approval rating (45% to 30%), but he displays no sign of vulnerability in three match-ups against his challengers, leading Lou Huddleston 55% to 37%, Tom D’Annunzio 54% to 38%, Hal Jordan 55% to 39% and Harold Johnson 53% to 39%. Sure, none of these Republicans have much name recognition, but consider all the polls we have seen recently in which incumbent Democrats have struggled to mount any sort of lead against unknown opponents. Yet, not only is Kissell up big but he’s also topping 50%.

ND-AL: The DCCC is relieved Rep. Earl Pomeroy decided to seek re-election, but it doesn’t mean he is a shoo-in to win another term. A new poll by Research 2000 finds him solidly ahead of all of his competitors Kevin Cramer and Duane Sand, but he fails to clear 50% against either. (He’s ahead 46-24 and 47-22, respectively.) This is all the more problematic when you consider that Republicans are 5 times more likely to be undecided than Democrats, so the GOP candidates have a lot of room to grow once they introduce themselves, and the NRCC especially has hope in Cramer (North Dakota Public Service Commissioner). In short: Pomeroy has a good standing and he is clearly favored to win re-election, but he is not safe.

OH-01: If Kissell and Pomeroy look strong, Rep. Steve Driehaus is sinking according to a SUSA poll commissioned by FiredogLake. We already knew that this freshman Democrat was one of the most endangered of the cycle (he is facing a rematch against the Republican he ousted in 2008, and OH-01 is a district with a substantial African-American population, so a drop in black turnout compared to the past cycle would be particularly hurtful to his chances), but SUSA’s numbers are uglier than even optimistic Republicans surely expected: Driehaus trails 39% to 56% for former Rep. Steve Chabot. I don’t need to tell you the odds that an incumbent who trails by 17% might win re-election. (Coincidentally, this is the same exact margin SUSA found against Rep. Vic Snyder on Friday.)

An unexpected Dem opportunity in UT, door is closing in OK

Utah: Democrats were excited at Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Coroon’s decision to challenge Governor Herbert, and a Deseret News poll confirms that Coroon could make the race well-worth watching: Herbert leads 48% to 35%, down from his 56-32 lead back in November. There’s no question that Herbert is heavily favored, but Coroon does represent one third of the state’s population in a capacity that ensures he is a visible presence. At the very least, Coroon’s presence on the ballot could help Democrats ensure that Rep. Jim Matheson isn’t a victim of any potential red wave.

Oklahoma: Whatever Oklahoma’s staunchly conservative status, Democrats had enough of a bench they were expecting to mount a highly competitive bid to defend the state’s governorship. (Governor Henry is term-limited.) Yet, a Tulsa News poll finds that Lieut. Gov. Jari Askins and Attorney General Drew Edmonson are no match for Rep. Mary Fallin; despite their strong favorability rating (Edmonson’s stands at 51-31), they trail the Republican 52% to 36% and 51% to 39%, respectively. A former Lieutenant Governor, Fallin is well-known and popular (54% to 29%). Democrats shouldn’t entirely give up, but the race most certainly leans Republican.

Connecticut and North Dakota won’t be competitive

From the moment Senators Byron Dorgan and Chris Dodd retired two weeks ago, we have known that the races to replace them are unlikely to be competitive. Three new poll confirm that John Hoeven and Richard Blumenthal are very heavily favored to be sworn into the Senate come January 2011.

North Dakota: Richard 2000 finds Hoeven leading 56% to 32% against Ed Schulz, 55% to 34% against former AG Heidi Heitkamp and 56% to 32% against Jasper Schneider. Sure, Hoeven’s lead doesn’t quite reach “overwhelming” status, but looking at the internals it’s hard to see a path to victory for whoever Democrats nominate: There are few undecideds, including among Democratic voters; Hoeven enjoys near unanimous support among Republicans; and he has daunting leads among independents.

Connecticut: We’ve already seen a few surveys displaying Blumenthal’s dominance, but over the past 5 days Quinnipiac and Research 2000 both released surveys confirming it. In Research 2000, Blumenthal leads Rob Simmons 54% to 35%, Linda McMahon 56% to 34% and Peter Schiff 56% to 33%. In Quinnipiac, whose brutal numbers for Dodd were as responsible for driving the narrative of his doom than those of any other pollster, his leads are gigantic: 62% to 27% against Simmons, 64% to 23% against McMahon, 66% to 19% against Schiff. Everything can happen if Democrats aren’t careful (see neighboring Massachussetts), but Blumenthal isn’t Martha Coakley.

CO, NH, NV, OH: 4 key Senate races, 7 rough polls for Senate Democrats.

Ohio: Democrats led this open race for much of 2009, but Rasmussen’s new poll is its second in a row to find Rob Portman has grabbed the edge. He leads Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher 44% to 37% and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner 43% to 40%. These numbers are very interesting because the Democratic establishment holds Fisher to be a stronger candidate; yet, Portman increased his lead against Fisher whilelosing ground against Brunner! Overall, then, the two parties are roughly where they were in early December.

Colorado: This week, we received three surveys testing Colorado, which until this week an underpolled state:

  • Rasmussen has by far the worst set of results for Democrats: Senator Michael Bennet trails former Lieut. Gov. 49% to 37%, and he’s also behind lower-profile Tom Wiens (44% to 38%) and Ken Buck (43% to 38%). Former Speaker Andrew Romanoff trails Norton and Wiens by the same margin but is only behind Buck by 1%.
  • In response to these ugly numbers, Bennet released an internal poll, which might have found better results but he is still behind Jane Norton, 43% to 40%.
  • Finally, just this afternoon Research 2000 released the best news Bennet has received in quite some time: Bennet leads Norton 40% to 39%, Buck 41% to 38% and Wiens 42% to 38%; Romanoff trails Norton by 2% but leads Buck and Wiens by 1% and 2%.

There is quite a lot of disparity between these three surveys, and Bennet’s camp will be delighted that he finally manages a lead in a poll - even if it’s well within the MoE. That said, it is clear from all of these surveys that Bennet is stuck at 40% - a dismal place for an incumbent to be, even an appointed one. Colorado remains a major problem for Democrats.

New Hampshire: Another tough Rasmussen poll, since it shows that what once looked like a Democratic-leaning open seat might now be leaning Republican: Attorney General Kelly Ayotte leads Rep. Paul Hodes 49% to 40%. (This is roughly the same margin Rasmussen found in September.) Hodes does led lower-profile Republicans Ovide Lamontagne and Bill Binnie 45% to 38% and 43% to 37%, respectively. This is

Nevada: With everyone now aware that Harry Reid is one of the Democrats’ most vulnerable senators, there’s been speculation that the party might try to convince him to pull a Chris Dodd, as in retire for the good of the party. But a new poll released last week revealed that Democrats don’t have a Blumenthal-like savior:

  • PPP found Harry Reid trailing Sue Lowden 51% to 41% and Danny Tarkanian 50% to 42% - very ugly margins for a longtime senator against second-tier challengers. Yet, the Republicans enjoy similar margins against other Democrats! Rep. Shelly Berkley trails by 8% against both; Rose Miller trails by 10% and 11%, respectively. Only Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman manages to stay on an equal footing: he ties Tarkanian at 41%, leads Lowden 42% to 40%.
  • If PPP’s numbers were ugly, how can we describe Rasmussen’s? Here, Reid is crushed Lowden 48% to 36% and Tarkanian 50% to 36%! He manages to stay close to former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, but even here he’s stuck at 40%, trailing 44% to 40%.

If polls showing other Democrats doing better than Reid started piling up, the party could hope to convince him to retire; but PPP’s survey cuts that hope short (Research 2000 will also soon release a similar poll), which allows Republicans to feel increasingly confident about picking-up Nevada.

OH, NV and MA: 3 key Governor’s races, three tough polls for Dems

Ohio: If Ted Strickland started 2009 as the clear favorite, he starts 2010 trailing former Rep. John Kasich. Rasmussen finds him trailing 47% to 40%, which is actually a 2% improvement over December’s numbers. Other surveys have found a closer race, but there’s no question that Strickland is in for a very tough battle.

Nevada: Rory Reid is in as much trouble as his father, only the position they’re vying for is different. Sure, Reid manages to lead incumbent Governor Jim Gibbons 43% to 36% in Mason Dixon’s poll, but considering that Gibbons is even more unpopular (his favorability rating is 18% to 53%) than David Paterson that doesn’t mean much; the favorite to win the Republican nomination, Brian Sandoval, crushes Reid 53% to 31%! In a three-way race involving Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, who is considering running as an independent, Sandoval and Goodman are close (35% to 33% for the former), with 20% for Reid. There’s no mystery as to why: Reid’s favorability rating is 25% to 35%, Goodman’s 43-15 and Sandoval’s 36-5. Hard to explain Reid’s numbers by anything but his last name.

Massachussetts: Two new polls confirm that Martha Coakley isn’t the only struggling Massachussetts Democrat:

  • PPP shows that Governor Deval Patrick has a dismal approval rating of just 22%. In three-way races involving Treasurer Tom Cahill (as an independent) and one of his 2 Republican opponents, Patrick is ahead but he receives less than 30% (!) and leads whoever is in second place by just 2% or 3%. In both match-ups, the 3 candidates are within 8%.
  • The Boston Globe poll is more favorable to Patrick: His favorability rating is a bad but not horrendous 39/50 and his leads over Cahill are a bit larger. If the GOP nominee is Charlie Baker, Patrick receives 30, Cahill 23% and Baker 19%; if the GOP nominee is Mihos, the numbers are 32, 23 and 19 for Mihos.

Much will depend on how Cahill positions his campaign. A former Democrat, he has been inching closer to the right since announcing he would run as an independent, for instance asking a conservative Republican state legislator to join his ticket.

Democrats’ silver lining is definitely Connecticut

Not only did Chris Dodd’s retirement all but guarantee Democrats will save Connecticut’s Senate seat, but Research 2000 shows they can look forward to in the Governor’s race - and also the 2012 Senate contest. Susan Bysiewicz, who just dropped out of the race last week, was in a very strong position: she led Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele 52% to 33%, Tom Foley 51% to 35% and Mark Boughton 52% to 32%. But the Democrats left in the race look solid as well: Ned Lamont leads 46-36, 46-37 and 46-34 while Dan Malloney is up 44-35, 43-37 and 44-34, respectively.

Research 2000 also tested the 2012 Senate race. In a two-way general election match-up between Joe Lieberman and Chris Murphy, the representative leads the independent senator 45% to 26% - it’s quite stunning to see such a longtime senator fail to receive more than a quarter of the vote. Not only does Murphy crush Lieberman among Democrats (71% to 20%), but also among independents (41% to 22%). Democrats might fear a lot of losses in 2010, but at least Lieberman looks to have too low support to have much hope to win re-election in 2012.

Gubernatorial polls: Brewer, Culver, Patrick in trouble while O’Malley’s in control

Arizona: Democrat Terry Goddard looks strong

PPP gives us a rare glance at Arizona’s gubernatorial contest, finding that Democrats are in a very good position to score a pick-up - something we have not said about many new races over the past few months. Governor Jan Brewer, who rose to this position when Barack Obama appointed Janet Napolitano to his Cabinet, is very unpopular: Her dismal 26% to 43% rating is enough to make her one of the most endangered incumbents in the country.

The good news for Democrats is that their probable nominee Attorney General Terry Goddard looks like a formidable contender independently of Brewer’s weakness. Not only does he beat Brewer by a convincing 10% (46% to 36%), he also posts a solid favorability rating (44% to 22%) and has a 45% to 37% lead over Treasurer Dean Martin, who has said he might challenge Brewer in the Republican primary.

PPP’s survey also gives us an answer to a question I asked two weeks ago: Can former Governor Fife Symington have any hope to regain voters’ trust 13 years after being forced to resign due a bank fraud scandal? He might have rebuild his reputation in a court of law - his initial conviction was later overturned by an appeals court - but public option is dead set against him: His favorability rating is catastrophic (17% to 54%) and he is crushed by Goddard 52% to 29%. That tells us all we need to know about his general election viability, and we can only wish the poll had tested whether he had any chance of winning the GOP primary.

All the more admirable in Goddard’s strength is that it’s not like the poll reveals that Democrats are generally in great shape in the state - quite the contrary . In hypothetical match-ups in the 2012 presidential race, PPP finds Obama unable to muster a lead against Sarah Palin (the two are tied at 47%) while he trails Mitt Romney 50% to 43% and Mike Huckabee 49% to 45%. Given that it looked like Obama would have won the state in Arizona had his opponent not come from there, I am somewhat surprised at these results. Democrats also struggle to be competitive in the Senate race, but more on that tomorrow.

Iowa: When an incumbent trails by 20%

Democrats might be heading towards a pick-up in Arizona, but they are not in hot shape in Iowa, where Governor Chet Culver trails two potential Republican opponents in a Rasmussen poll - one of them by a gigantic margin. There is no doubt that former Governor Terry Branstad would be as formidable a challenger as the GOP can hope for; but it is still shocking to see Branstad leaving Culver 54% to 34%. Culver trails Bob Vander Plaats 43% to 39%, a more acceptable level but one that is still troubling given that Vander Plaats has never looked like the most electable Republican and that Culver still fails to break the 40% mark.

Note that Culver’s rating in this poll - 43% to 50% - is much lower than it was in a recent Selzer & Co poll, which had him at 50% to 38%. I am unable to find polls taken earlier in 2009, though I believe they exist. In any case, we do not have to believe the situation is as bad as Rasmussen suggests to still conclude that Culver is highly vulnerable, especially with Branstad considered likely to run.

Massachusetts: Patrick’s saving grace could be 3-way race

When Treasurer Tim Cahill announced he would run for Governor as an independent, I wrote that one possible scenario was that this could help Deval Patrick. He might be very unpopular, but Massachusetts is blue enough that Patrick can’t be expected to drop under 30%. That puts him closer to a 3-way plurality victory than a 2-way majority victory. A new Suffolk poll, which I believe is the first released since Cahill entered the race, confirms that analysis.

While Patrick’s approval rating is not that terrible (42% to 49%), only 29% of respondents say he deserves to win re-election; 56% say they would prefer someone else. You wouldn’t expect an incumbent with such a dismal re-elect to lead two match-ups by double-digits but that is exactly what Patrick is able to do thanks to the field’s crowded nature. If the Republican nominee is Charlie Baker, Patrick leads 36% to 23% for Cahill and 14% for Baker; if the GOP nominee is Charles Mihos, he leads 36% to 24% for Cahill and 17% for Mihos.

A genuine three-way race is bound to be unstable, as one candidate’s ups and downs can affect the margin between the two other. For instance, Patrick would be in trouble if the GOP nominee ends up collapsing in the low single-digits, letting his supporters move to Cahill’s camp; that’s what happened in Connecticut’s 2006 Senate race (Lieberman-Lamont). Also troubling for Patrick is that Cahill enjoys a strong favorability rating: 35-12 is a good foundation on which to build a statewide race.

NY: Voters are critical of Obama’s intervention, but it doesn’t make them like Paterson

Two new surveys of New York’s gubernatorial race find no surprises. First, Siena has his approval rating at a stunningly low 18%, his re-elect at 14%; he trails Cuomo 66% to 20%, Giuliani 52% to 35% and manages a 39% to 35% lead against Lazio. (Cuomo leads Giuliani by 13%.) Second, Marist released a second poll of the race in as many week, this one conducted in the immediate aftermath of news that Obama had asked Paterson not to run. 62% to 27%, respondents say Obama’s move was wrong; but they also say (25% to 63%) that Paterson should retire. With an approval rating at 17%, Paterson’s path to victory seems as damaged as ever.

Maryland: At least one Governor looks in good position

Here’s one incumbent that does not look to be in a world of hurt. According to a Gonzalez Research poll, Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley would beat his predecessor Bob Ehrlich 49% to 38% and RNC Chairman Michael Steele 52% to 37%. Sure, neither margin is that overwhelming but Ehrlich is the only credible candidate the state GOP has to offer (and it’s not looking very likely he’ll run), so if even he trails by single-digits it’s unlikely Republicans will be able to do much against O’Malley. After all, the 50% rule is less relevant in match-ups in which the challenger is a well-known figure whose name recognition is almost equal to that of the incumbent.

It’s all about Massachusetts: Cahill challenges Patrick, Coakley leads a Meehan-less field

In Massachusetts, all eyes are turned towards the Senate race but next year’s gubernatorial election is about to get just as interesting. State Treasurer Tim Cahill just announced that he will run for Governor as an independent, setting up a general election date with incumbent Deval Patrick and a Republican still to be determined.

A lifelong Democrat, Cahill left the party earlier this year, prompting speculation that he wanted to run for Governor without having to go through the Democratic primary. He made sure to emphasize substantive differences with the Democratic Party not to simply look like an opportunist or a spoiler. He touted himself as a fiscal conservative, emphasized his support for lowering spending and cutting taxes - especially the sales tax. That message might have allowed him to clinch a plurality win in a crowded primary for state Treasurer, but it would made it difficult for him to beat an incumbent in a one-on-one race.

He stands a far better chance in the general election, however. The political situation in Massachusetts is in many ways similar to that of New Jersey: The Democratic Governor is very unpopular, but the majority of voters are such reliable Democrats that they are reluctant to support a Republican if they have any other course of action. With Cahill’s candidacy, many voters who are looking to get rid of Patrick will jump on the opportunity to do so without having to vote for a Republican - thus casting a ballot for Cahill.

As such, he can hope to reach a plurality by coalescing a coalition of independents and disaffected Democrats; if he emerges as Patrick’s main rival, he could even convince some Republicans to vote for him. But complicating matters is that I can also think of cogent arguments as to why his entrance will help Patrick or the Republican nominee.

Why it could help the GOP: Massachusetts is a blue enough state that it would be tough for the Republican nominee to reach 50% when facing an incumbent, however unpopular that governor might be. It’s far easier to imagine Charlie Mihos or Charlie Baker clinching a victory with just 35%-40% of the vote, with Cahill and Patrick splitting the rest. (Note: Mihos is denying reports that he is considering jumping in the Senate race.)

Why it could help Patrick: The Governor’s numbers are so low that he should expect massive defections from voters who would typically vote Democratic, putting him in the same predicament as Corzine. As such, it is unclear whether he could break out of the low 40s range in a two-way race. Yet, that might not be a problem in a 3-way race: Massachusetts is blue enough that there must be a floor below which no Democratic nominee will fall. That makes it tough to see Patrick getting less than 30%, which puts him much closer to a 3-way plurality victory than a 2-way majority victory.

In short: Massachusetts looks set to host a highly competitive Governor’s contest in which 3 candidates will have a good chance of winning. A July Boston Globe poll found Cahill and Patrick tied with the Republican nominees trailing but still in contention.

Meanwhile, the Senate landscape is getting clearer

Things are unfolding so quickly in the special Senate election that I have renounced offering play-by-play coverage - not to mention that I already devoted enough time to the state yesterday. Since then, former Rep. Marty Meehan announced he would not run, joining former Rep. Joe Kennedy on the sidelines; interestingly, Meehan did not rule out seeking office in the future, and he does have more than $5 million sitting in the bank.

Meanwhile, Rep. Mike Capuano signaled he would get in the race; he thus joined Stephen Lynch and Martha Coakley as the only Democrats who have gotten their hand on any paperwork. That leaves JeffJohn Tierney and Ed Markey as the only Democrats not to have clearly indicated what they are planning on doing. If either of them runs, it could make the primary more difficult for Capuano and easier for Lynch.

Indeed, Lynch finds himself at the right of the primary field, so the more crowded the race the better his chance of clinching the nomination with a plurality of the vote. Even then it is somewhat difficult for me to figure out what could be Lynch’s path to the nomination. After all, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to count on the same level of union support he enjoyed when he ran for the House in 2001: Not only is he the only Democrat on the list of Senate candidates to have supported the Peru Trade Promotion Act, but his public option hesitations are visibly straining his relationship with labor.

But it looks like the candidate who stands to benefit the most from a crowded race is Coakley. Her profile as the only non-representative and only woman to consider the race will make it easy for her to differentiate herself from the rest of the pack, so the more congressmen jump in, telescoping each other’s messages, the better for the Attorney General. A new Rasmussen poll - the first of the special election - finds her with a solid lead, with 38% of the vote; Lynch gets 11%, Markey 10%, Capuano 7% and Tierney 3%. The latter 3 congressmen will have a chance to increase their support as they introduce themselves to voters statewide, but can they really hope to close the gap if more than one of them is running?

This past week’s polls give Republicans plenty to celebrate

On Monday, I mentioned two polls that gave Senate Democrats some heartburn - Simmons’s lead over Dodd and Boxer’s weak showing against Fiorina - but many other surveys were released in the days during which I put my blog on hold. Some of them have been circulating for more than a week, and many of you have surely seen them by now; but I thought I should at least mention it - so here’s the full rundown.

As you can see, Republicans have a lot to celebrate (especially when you add the CA and CT polls I mentioned above) while the only good news Democrats can point to is that they’re holding Vitter and Bloomberg under 50%.

Vitter leads by double-digit but under 50%: PPP’s Louisiana survey proposes one the first match-ups we’ve seen of Senator David Vitter and Rep. Charlie Melancon: The incumbent leads by a solid though not overwhelming 44% to 32%.His approval rating stands at a respectable 44-36 while his re-elect is weak (38-44). Vitter is nowhere near the top of the DSCC’s target list, but this poll will do nothing to dissuade those Democrats who think the D.C. Madam’s former client could be vulnerable to a strong challenge: Vitter is well under the 50% threshold. Now, the question is whether Melancon will actually jump in the race. His entry would delight the DSCC, its most probable consequence would be for Democrats to lose his House seat.

McDonnell’s surge: Forget Creigh Deeds’s post-primary bounce: A new SUSA poll suggests the Democrat will now be likely just to enter the general election period in a competitive position. Bob McDonnell led by 4% in June, but he now crushes Deeds 55% to 40%. Republicans also hold decisive leads in the LG and AG races. This surge is due to: McDonnell’s huge advantage among independents (60% to 35%) and to the sample’s composition. While Obama won Virginia’s actual November vote by 5%, 52% of respondents revealed they’d voted for McCain in November while 43% said they’d chosen Obama.

That discrepancy has sparked some debate: Is the poll using a flawed sample? Or is this survey revealing that the Democratic electorate is far less likely to turn out than the Republican base? While I do think the poll’s make-up is perhaps a bit too skewed, that’s certainly no reason to toss it out - especially when we have long known that the biggest risk Deeds faces is a fired-up conservative crowd coupled with disaffected African-Americans and liberals. Furthermore, other surveys have shown McDonnell climbing back since Deeds’s early June bounce; the numbers are certainly not as big as SUSA’s, but the trends coincidence.

GOP poll finds Hoeven crushing Dorgan: North Dakota Governor John Hoeven recently suggested he is still looking at the possibility of running for Senate, and the NRSC is clearly committed to recruiting him. Public Opinion Strategies has just released a GOP-sponsored poll that shows Hoeven crushing Senator Byron Dorgan 53% to 36%. While Dorgan is very popular (69-24), Hoeven is beloved (86-5). It’s hard to know what to make of this poll: A February poll released by Research 2000 had Dorgan leading by 22%!

Who to trust? My sense is that both surveys have unrealistically big margins, but until we get other pollsters to take a look at North Dakota I think Research 2000’s survey makes more sense. Small states - especially the Dakotas - like to keep their incumbents since seniority is their only hope for any influence on the Hill. (There’s also the fact that R2000 is an independent poll while POS is a Republican outlet.)

Patrick is more vulnerable than is commonly thought: A number of polls have shown that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is in trouble and this week’s a Boston Globe-UNH poll confirmed it: Not only is his favorability rating dismal (36% to 52%) but he struggles in all types of general election configurations: Against Republican businessmen Charles Baker and Christy Mihos, he trails 41% to 35% and 41% to 40%, respectively. If Treasurer Tom Cahill runs as an independent, Patrick at least avoids trailing: He ties Cahill at 30% in a match-up with Baker, who gets 20%, and at 31% in a match-up with Mihos, who gets 18%.

This poll demonstrates that Mihos and Baker’s general election competitiveness derives from Patrick’s unpopularity more than from voters’ sudden interest in voting for a Republican. As such, a 3-way race could be Patrick’s main hope for survival as Cahill and the GOP nominee could split the anti-incumbent vote. On the other hand, many Democrats who would not go as far as to vote for a Republican might be open to voting for an independent challenger, so Patrick stands to lose supporters if Cahill runs.

Bloomberg slips, somewhat: Given the obscene amount of money Mike Bloomberg is spending to win re-election, he must surely not have been expecting to see his numbers decline. Yet, that’s exactly what happened in Quinnipiac’s latest survey of New York’s mayoral race: Bloomberg has slipped to its lowest total since Quinnipiac started testing his match-ups with Democrat William Thompson. Sure, Bloomberg remains firmly in control - he leads 47% to 37% - but that compares to his 22% lead in June. In particular, Thompson is climbing among Democrats (he has a 45-42 lead) and African-Americans (56-30). So is this just an outlier or will other polls find a similar tightening?

No improvement for Corzine: Governor Jon Corzine might be going on the offensive in New Jersey, but his numbers remain as dismal as ever: He has trailed by double-digits in 9 of the 11 polls taken since June. The latest survey, released by PPP, confirms that Republicans are now heavily favored to pick-up this governorship: Chris Christie leads 50% to 36%. Despite the Democrat’s negative ads, Christie retains a strong favorability rating (42-32), especially compared to Corzine’s truly disastrous 33-56.

In new polls, GOP leads 3 out of 4 Northeastern races

In 2006 and 2008, the GOP was routed throughout the Northeast, losing numerous governorships and congressional seats. It remains to be seen whether Republicans can make up any ground at the federal level - Democrats are narrowly favored to pick-up a second Senate seat from New Hampshire - but they are well-positioned to capture some gubernatorial mansions.

Hodes has an edge in New Hampshire

John Sununu is expected to announce his 2010 plans shortly - perhaps in the coming days - but a new ARG poll confirms that he’ll be no savior for New Hampshire Republicans: 8 months after losing his re-election bid by 7%, he is trailing by almost as much in a new American Research Group poll. The survey finds probable Democratic nominee Paul Hodes ahead 40% to 34% - the same margin the pollster had found in March.

More interesting than the Democrat’s advantage is the fact that Sununu is stuck at 34% - a dismal showing for a man who was a U.S. Senator just 6 months ago. Combined with the fact that Sununu is better known than Hodes and that he was already stuck in the low 40s through the 50 polls released in the 2008 cycle, this sure raises questions about his electability: Is it conceivable that a majority of New Hampshire residents would suddenly decide to back a man they have knowingly shunned for years?

Sununu is one of the only options that New Hampshire Republicans have available. As such, it’s tough to say that it would be good news for the GOP if Sununu were to pass on the race. Yet, while Sununu would start at a higher level, he also looks to have a low ceiling and fielding him might condemn Republicans to relive 2008 rather than attempt to start anew.

Et tu, Massachusetts?

Over the past six months, two polls had found brutal numbers for Governor Deval Patrick. A March survey had him narrowly trailing the state Treasurer in a hypothetical Democratic primary, and an April survey found that Massachusetts voters were so dissatisfied with Patrick that they were nostalgic for the days of Mitt Romney. But neither poll tested any general election match-ups.

Well, Rasmussen just went there and found very worrisome numbers for Patrick’s re-election prospects. Not only is the incumbent stuck well below 50% against two businessman, but he is even narrowly trailing one of them. Christy Mihos, who garnered 7% as an independent candidate back in 2007, has a 41-40 edge; Charlie Baker trails 41% to 36%. Interestingly, both Republicans enjoy higher name recognition than you might suspect (especially Mihos, with just 18% who don’t have an opinion about him).

This race will largely be a referendum about Patrick and his leadership. Just as in New York and New Jersey, the Governor’s unpopularity will make it hard for Democrats to cast the spotlight on the opposition - and it’s not like Massachusetts has shied away from electing Republicans in the past. More than his state’s blue roots, Patrick’s saving grace was expected to be the weakness of the Republican bench but if even Mihos manages to start with a strong favorability rating and a 1% edge, this contest could certainly be tougher than expected for Democrats. Former Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey is also mentioned as a contender, and she could make an even stronger challenger.

Governor closes gap with Giuliani by 9%, still trails by 17%

David Paterson was hoping that his confrontational stance with New York’s state Senate would help his poll numbers and the latest Marist poll, just like the latest Quinnipiac poll, has found the slightest of bumps. While Paterson’s approval rating is stuck at a dismal 22% and his match-ups results remain pathetic, they are at least inching upwards: He is crushed 69% to 24% by Andrew Cuomo (70-21 in May), 54% to 37% by Rudy Giuliani (56% to 32% in May) and he actually has seized a 41% to 40% edge against Rick Lazio (he trailed by 3% in May). Cuomo leads both Republicans, 68-22 against Lazio and 51-33 against Giuliani.

It’s telling that Paterson can cut his deficit against Giuliani by 9% and still look to be in a huge hole - down 17% as an incumbent is a sure sign of defeat. On the other hand, hi general election results are back in the realm of what we election watchers can deal with rationally - and that’s saying a lot considering the depths of unpopularity Paterson hit in the spring. Dare we stay that Democrats would have a glimmer of hope even if they ended up with Paterson as their nominee?

Of course, for that to happen would require the Attorney General to surprise us and not jump in the Democratic primary, as Cuomo looks all but certain to defeat Paterson if he runs. As for Lazio, he should not be dismissed on the basis of these numbers. Yes, he is blown out of the water by Cuomo but that’s not a contest any Republican should have much hope of winning. Given that Lazio has been out of the public eye for nearly a decade, tying the incumbent Governor - and performing only 16% worse than the formidable Giuliani - isn’t that bad a sign.

Christie stays above 50%

The two most recent New Jersey polls confirm that the situation is critical for Governor Jon Corzine. The first is a Strategic Vision poll that shows Corzine posting a dismal 34% approval rating and trailing Chris Christie by a 51% to 39% margin. The second is a PPP survey that has Christie up 51% to 41%, including a brutal 60-26 lead among independents. These are the third and fourth consecutive poll that finds Christie at or above the 50% mark. What more needs to be said?

The situation gets worse for the Governor when you consider that Christie achieves majority support despite receiving only 16% support from Democrats so it’s not like Corzine is underperforming among his base. We shall now see whether coverage of Christie’s appearance in front of a House committee charged with investigating potential prosecutorial abuses will have any impact on the race.

Brutal numbers for 2 Democratic Governors

All evidence continues to suggest that incumbent Governors will be prime targets next year, as even those who were considered safe are now posting disastrous polling results. The two latest Governors to have be found posting dismal numbers: Colorado’s Bill Ritter and Massachusetts’ Deval Patrick.

Colorado: Ritter trails McInnis

Two days ago, some of who justified Michael Bennet’s poor numbers in the PPP survey by pointing out that he had only been in office for 3 months; that same argument cannot be used to explain away poor results by Bill Ritter, who was first elected in 2006. In that same PPP survey, 41% approve the Colorado Governor’s performance, while 49% disapprove. Independents (a crucial constituency in a state in which Democrats do not have a registration edge) are more critical than the electorate at large: 40% approve, 52% disapprove.

When matched-up with former Rep. Scott McInnis, who has reportedly decided to run, Ritter trails 48% to 41%. Against state Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, Ritter is ahead 42% to 40%.

Needless to say, those are very worrisome numbers for Colorado Democrats. For an incumbent to be under 50% is a sign of vulnerability; for an incumbent to be trailing outside of the margin of error against a man who has been out of office for 6 years makes the race a toss-up at best; and for an incumbent to be stuck in the low 40s against a little-known opponent first elected to the state legislature in 2004 leaves no doubt that Colorado voters are not looking to support Ritter.

One note about the poll, however: I do not like finger-pointing a poll’s internals to cast doubt on a poll’s findings, as most surveys have some sort of strange result and as many polls don’t even publish their internals. But this PPP survey finds Democrats so unpopular among Hispanics as to explain much of their overall weakness: The poll finds Hispanics are down on Obama, disapprove Bennet’s performance by 9% and vote for McInnis over Ritter by 3%.

Last November, Obama won Colorado’s Latino vote 61% to 38%; Udall won it 63% to 30%. If this poll’s numbers hold in 2010, there is no way for Democrats to even be competitive, so we should be skeptical until we find another survey’s confirmation. On the other hand: Other surveys have confirmed that Ritter is not in the best of political shape, so this problem isn’t enough to explain away the Governor’s vulnerability.

Massachusetts: Patrick makes voters nostalgic for Romney

Governor Deval Patrick should consider himself lucky that the Massachusetts GOP has no bench to speak of. If a credible challenger to emerge, there is no little doubt that Patrick would be in trouble.

Last month, a Suffolk survey unexpectedly found Patrick trailing state Treasurer Tim Cahill in a Democratic primary; now, Rasmussen confirms that Patrick’s unpopularity:

  • Only 34% approve of Patrick’s performance; 65% disapprove.
  • Asked whether they are likely to vote for Patrick next year, only 33% say they are very or somewhat likely - a catastrophic number for any incumbent; 57% say they are not very or not at all likely.
  • In the most brutal of the poll, 49% of respondents say that Mitt Romney (Patrick’s predecessor) did a better job as Governor than Deval Patrick is doing; only 32% prefer the Democrat.

That’s right: Three years after Romney left the governorship and drifted very far rightward to win the GOP’s presidential nomination, Massachusetts residents look nostalgic for the days of Romney’s rule. Could there be a clearer sign that Patrick has joined the contest for most unpopular Governor, alongside David Paterson, Jim Gibbons and perhaps Jon Corzine. Thankfully for Patrick, Massachusetts Republicans are far more disorganized than they are in New York and in New Jersey; but former Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey could mount a credible challenge.

Trouble for incumbents: Burr, Dodd, Lieberman and Patrick tanking in polls

Connecticut

Given the events of the past few weeks and his previously dismal numbers, who would have thought that Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd would be the only one of four incumbents tested in new polls to be above the 40% mark? A new Research 2000 poll confirms that Dodd is vulnerable, but at the very least he is leading:

  • Dodd leads former Rep. Rob Simmons 45% to 40%. He stays afloat thanks to Connecticut Democrats, who back him 73% to 13%, but independents (a significant force in Connecticut) support Simmons 48% to 36%.
  • When matched-up against state Senator Sam Caliguri, Dodd is ahead by a more respectable 51% to 30%. Against CNBC host Larry Kudlow (who just declared he would not make a run, which I argued was good news for the GOP), Dodd leads 53% to 31%.
  • Similarly, Dodd’s favorability rating is not good (47% to 40%) but he remains in the positives. On the other hand, voters know and like Simmons: 41% have a favorable impression, versus only 18%. Caliguri on the other hand, is largely unknown: 82% of respondents have no opinion.

This poll suggests that Dodd’s vulnerability is worsened by the combination of his unpopularity and Simmons’s strength - confirming that the former representative is one of the NRSC’s best offensive gets in the past two cycles. At the very least, Dodd is able to pass the 51% threshold against Caliguri and Kudlow; that means that enough voters remain willing to support the Senator that Dodd has not gone over the cliff of unelectability.

An incumbent who seems to have gone over that cliff, however, is Dodd’s fellow Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman:

  • 54% have an unfavorable impression of Lieberman, while only 41% have a favorable impression. Among Democrats, the verdict is clear: 35-65.
  • In three-watch match-ups, featuring Republican Governor Jodi Rell, Lieberman is third: Rell leads 42% to 30% for Ned Lamont and 25% for Lieberman or 43% with 28% for Blumenthal and 25% for Lieberman. The Senator gets more among Republican than among Democrats or among independents!

This election is not until 2012, but it is hard to see how Lieberman can pull together enough of an electoral coalition to pull out the election. If Republicans nominate a top-tier candidate like Rell, Lieberman will not win enough GOP support to pull out a plurality win; even if Republicans nominate a low-profile contender like in 2006, Lieberman is too unpopular among independents to benefit from their support as he did three years ago.

North Carolina

A few months after PPP found North Carolina Senator Richard Burr trailing Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper 39% to 34%, a new survey - released by Civitas - finds a similar result:

  • Cooper leads Burr 41% to 38% - a dismal level of support for any incumbent.
  • Those who have an opinion of Burr and of Cooper have a favorable impression: 44-12 for Burr, 32-4 for Cooper. Yet, both remain somewhat unknown.

In mid-January, Research 2000 also tested a Burr-Cooper match-up, finding the incumbent narrowly ahead 45% to 43%. In other words, all three surveys that have been released find Burr well under 50% and struggling to stay afloat. Burr is undoubtedly one of the most vulnerable incumbents of the 2010 cycle, and his main hope is that he can improve his numbers as the political environment ceases to be as toxic for Republican candidates. On the other hand, Democrats can take comfort in the fact that most voters have no opinion of Cooper, which gives the Attorney General plenty of room to grow.

Massachusetts

On Monday, I argued that the economic crisis and budgetary woes will make all Governors prime targets in 2010. If you still have any doubt, take a look at Suffolk’s bombshell of a poll taken in Massachusetts:

  • Matched-up against state Treasurer Tim Cahill (who says he is not running) in a hypothetical Democratic primary, Governor Deval Patrick trails 35% to 30%!
  • Patrick suffers from a negative approval rating, with 49% disapproving of his performance and 40% approving. 47% say he does not deserve to win re-election, against only 34%.
  • On the other hand, only 34% say they would consider voting for a Republican in the general election, while 52% say they would not.

Patrick has attracted a fair amount of criticism for his alleged ineffectiveness over the past few years, but that alone cannot explain how an incumbent Governor can be as low as 30% in his own party’s primary. If Patrick is receiving such dismal marks, how are Paterson, Corzine or Gibbons supposed to survive?

This Suffolk poll confirms that both parties should make sure to field credible candidates against every single Governor who has to run for re-election, however safe they might look today. Simply put, there is no such thing as a completely safe incumbent Governor in this cycle.



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