The Great Big Midterm Polling Roundup

by Jim Geraghty

The Liberty Foundation contracted with Magellan Strategies to conduct surveys of 600 to 900 likely voters in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin on the upcoming U.S. Senate elections and gubernatorial races. (Note that they polled general-election matchups in states where the primary has not occurred yet; undoubtedly the candidates who weren’t polled will gripe that this is anointing a primary winner before anyone casts any votes.)

Most of the results are more or less in line with past polling, with perhaps a bit more good news for the GOP than conventional wisdom suggested.

Alaska Senate: Incumbent Democrat Mark Begich 41 percent, Republican Dan Sullivan 46 percent. This is the first poll to put Sullivan ahead; previous polling put Begich in the higher 40s. Note that Sullivan has not won the primary yet; the primary is August 19.

Arkansas Senate: Incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor 43 percent, Republican Tom Cotton 46 percent. You may recall the New York Times survey finding Pryor ahead by 10 recently, surprising some folks; previous polling showed a tight race. At this point, the Times poll looks like an outlier.

Colorado Senate: Incumbent Democrat Mark Udall 45 percent; Republican Cory Gardner 42 percent. This result is in line with previous polling showing a Udall lead of a few points and well below 50 percent.

Cory Gardner, now hunting for a Senate seat.

Colorado Governor: Incumbent Democrat John Hickenlooper 50 percent, Republican Bob Beauprez 35 percent. (Insert, “What, are they high?” joke here.) This was the surprise in the mix, but it’s not that outlandish; previous polls had Hickenlooper in the high 40s and Beauprez in the high 30s.

Florida Governor: Democrat Charlie Crist 43 percent, incumbent Republican Rick Scott 45 percent. Consider this one a pleasant surprise for the Scott campaign, which continues to emphasize how much they realize the challenge before them. But also note Mason-Dixon had the pair tied this week. Early polls showed a consistent Crist lead, but that lead might be eroding as the campaign progresses.

Iowa Senate: Democrat Bruce Braley 40 percent, Republican Mark Jacobs 41 percent. Exactly what Republicans wanted to see, as previous polling had put Braley ahead, sometimes considerably. (What are the odds that Braley’s losing ground among farmers?) But Jacobs is not the GOP nominee yet; the Iowa primary is June 3. Joni Ernst already attracted quite a bit of attention for her standout hog-castration ad.

Louisiana Senate: Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu 42 percent, Republican Bill Cassidy 44 percent. There hasn’t been a lot of previous polling in this race; the preceding three showed a close race, in line with these results. Note that in Louisiana, there is a November “open primary” where all candidates are listed. If no one gets 50 percent (a safe bet), then the top two finishers go to a runoff held December 6.

Michigan Senate: Democrat Gary Peters 46 percent, Republican Terri Lynn Land 41 percent. A slight disappointment for Republicans, as Land had been polling surprisingly well earlier in this race.

Michigan Governor: Democrat Mark Schauer 42 percent, Republican incumbent Rick Snyder 45 percent. Another slight disappointment for the GOP, as most previous polling showed Snyder with larger leads than this.

North Carolina Senate: Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan 43 percent, Thom Tillis 43 percent. Another race where there hasn’t been a lot of previous polling matching up these two, and those few previous polls show a close race, like this result. (Incumbent Hagan should be sweating that she can’t break out of the low 40s.) The North Carolina primary is May 6.

Ohio Governor: Democrat Ed FitzGerald 41 percent, Republican incumbent John Kasich 47 percent. Two years ago it looked like Kasich would be a serious target for Democrats nationally, but over the past year he’s held the lead, sometimes by only a few points, sometimes by double digits. This will undoubtedly be a hard-fought battle, but for now Kasich is the favorite.

Wisconsin Governor: Democrat Mary Burke 47 percent, Republican incumbent Scott Walker 47 percent. This was the shocker, and ought to dispel the notion that the Liberty Foundation or Magellan Strategies are just telling Republicans what they want to hear with these results. Ever since Walker won the attempted recall election, conventional wisdom suggested that he was a small favorite in a state that is close to split down the middle between Republicans and Democrats. Walker has yet to trail in a poll, but this survey is a reminder that neither he nor the Republican Governors Association can take this race for granted.

The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.