Politics & Policy

Thursday Senate Scan

New York: How bad can it get for Democrats? If a new SurveyUSA poll is anywhere close to accurate, there’s no telling where the bottom is. The poll shows Sen. Kristen Gillibrand leading GOP challenger Rep. Joe DioGuardi by a single point, 45 percent to 44 percent. Among independents, DioGuardi leads by seven, 45 percent to 38 percent. RealClearPolitics breaks down the results further:

According to SurveyUSA, Gillibrand leads in NYC 54 percent to 35 percent, but is losing upstate and, more importantly, the New York suburbs. This is actually consistent with two things – DioGuardi’s Westchester base, and the revolt against Democrats in Nassau and Westchester Counties (little known fact — earlier this year, Democrats lost an Assembly seat in Westchester County that had given Obama 66 percent of the vote).

Another recent poll from Quinnipiac showed Gillibrand leading by six points, 48 percent to 42 percent, which is bad news from any incumbent’s perspective. Anyone ready to write off the GOP’s chances of winning the Senate after the debacle in Delaware should take step back and reconsider.

Washington: Dino Rossi continues to lag behind Sen. Patty Murray in the polls, and it appears that the enthusiasm gap favoring the GOP in most races throughout the country just hasn’t materialized in Washington, at least not yet (emphasis added):

A new poll commissioned by The Seattle Times and The Spokesman-Review of Spokane finds that the state’s voters, frustrated with the deepest economic slump since the Great Depression, have retreated somewhat from their 2008 embrace of President Obama.

Voters, however, pin more blame on Republicans for the economy and trust Democrats more to fix the nation’s problems. Still, significant chunks of the electorate blame both and trust neither.

The state remains cautiously optimistic that things will get better, especially for our families and communities.

But the 500 voters surveyed across the state were split about what to do next. On important policy questions, from the economy to the health-care overhaul, they were almost equally divided.

The poll, a snapshot taken Sept. 9-12, shows strengths and vulnerabilities for candidates in both parties as they refine their messages in the final weeks of their campaigns.

Skepticism over Obama’s economic policies and broad support for at least some of the tea party’s small-government message may bode well for the GOP. Nearly half said the tea-party movement shares some or most of their views. But those who vote most consistently still lean to the left.

In the season’s marquee campaign, Sen. Patty Murray, an 18-year incumbent Democrat, led Republican Dino Rossi. Forty-nine percent said they definitely or probably would vote for Murray; 41 percent went with Rossi. As a group, independent and undecided voters appeared to favor more of Rossi’s policy positions asked about in the poll.

But will these voters show up in November?

Wisconsin: Recent polling indicates a significant enthusiasm gap benefiting Republican Ron Johnson over Sen. Russ Feingold, and it appears as though the Tea Party is having a big impact:

Now, weeks before the Nov. 2 midterm elections, Republicans in Wisconsin and across the country appear upbeat, their election prospects buoyed by the energy and voting of tea party activists.

While the tea party movement has wreaked havoc with some Republican races nationally – political upstarts knocked off establishment candidates in Senate primaries in states such as Delaware and Alaska – the movement has found common ground with the Republican Party in Wisconsin.

From firing up the conservative base to offering newcomers such as Senate candidate Ron Johnson a platform to catapult political careers, the tea party has become a force in Wisconsin Republican politics in 2010.

Andrew StilesAndrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online. He previously worked at the Washington Free Beacon, and was an intern at The Hill newspaper. Stiles is a 2009 ...

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