Sleeper Senate Races? Better Get Them Some Coffee!

by Jim Geraghty

Politico lists the Senate races in Oregon, Virginia, Minnesota, Kansas and New Jersey as the “sleeper races” of this cycle.

If these are sleeper races, they’re sleeping heavily and somebody needs to get them some coffee. 

In Oregon, Republican candidate Monica Wehby generated some excitement after the primary; there are a lot of worse circumstances to run than being the director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon… in a state where the Obamacare exchange never worked and turned into a $250 million waste. But the one poll of this race released in August showed incumbent Democrat Sen. Jeff Merkeley ahead, 52 percent to 33 percent. There’s a lot of ground to make up; we’ll have to see if coming polls show a closer race.

In Virginia, no organization released a public poll of the Senate race in the month of August. Hampton University’s poll, released in late July, shows incumbent Sen. Mark Warner ahead, 55 percent to Ed Gillespie’s 32 percent. Again, a steep climb.

In Minnesota, Republicans have dreamed of beating Sen. Al Franken since his victory in 2008. And in mid-August, Survey USA had Franken ahead by only 9 points, 51 percent to 42 percent, and Rasmussen put Franken up by 8. Mike McFadden is likely to have the funds to run a serious race, but this is a tough state for Republicans.

In Kansas, incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, coming off a tough primary fight, has a smaller lead than one might expect in a heavily-GOP state. Survey USA put Roberts up by 5 and PPP put Roberts up by 7 in mid-August.

In New Jersey, two polls taken in July show incumbent Democrat Cory Booker with modest leads; Quinnipiac put Booker ahead of Republican Jeff Bell by 10 and New York Times/CBS/YouGov put him ahead by 7. Of course, no one should underestimate the difficulty of a non-Chris Christie Republican winning in New Jersey. 

Of course, if a survey comes out showing Oregon, Virginia Minnesota or New Jersey looking like a toss-up… it would set off a wave of Democratic panic.

The Campaign Spot

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