• Larry Sabato,  Polling,  U.S. Senate 2012

    The 2012 U.S. Senate Races That Will Determine Who Controls the Senate

    Tilting the toss ups — ranking toss-up Senate races from most likely to go Republican (top, dark red tint) to most likely to go Democratic (bottom, dark blue tint)

    Larry Sabato et. al have the analysis here.

    Ah, the Senate. The battle for control fascinates us — and all election observers — because there are so many intriguing races and personalities. Yet, as we update our ratings today and move in a new direction on Congress’ upper chamber, it is worth stressing at the outset that no party will truly control the Senate come January 2013. There is no chance at all that Democrats or Republicans will hit the magic 60 seats required to break filibusters and thus run the Senate. Increasingly, it looks likely that the winning party will have a smaller majority than the Democrats do now (53 seats) — if there is a majority at all. The tiny margin for the winning party will enable the new Senate to do what Senates do best: a whole lot of nothing (discounting talk, of course).

    I pretty much agree with their analysis. They deliver a good race by race analysis and it is worth the time to read.

    The Senate races in Virginia and Nevada intrigue me and will be fiercely fought since they are key battleground states for the Presidency. If the GOP nominee, beats Obama in the state, then the Senate seat will likely go red.

    In any event, there will not be a 60 vote majority obtainable by either party. So, the only people that will really care will be Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell and their staffs.

  • Dean Heller,  Shelley Berkley,  U.S. Senate 2012

    NV-Sen: Dean Heller 48% Vs. Shelly Barkley 42%

    According to the latest Public Opinion Strategies (R) Poll.

    A new Public Opinion Strategies (R) poll in Nevada shows Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) leading Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) in the U.S. Senate race by six points, 48% to 42%.

    The poll is here.

    According to Nevada political reporter extraordinaire John Ralston
    , Heller is head in Washoe County by 17 points and also ahead with independents (2 to 1).

  • Polling,  Russ Feingold,  Tommy Thompson,  U.S. Senate 2012,  Wisconsin

    WI-Sen Poll Watch: GOP Pick Up in 2012?

    Quite possible in the latest PPP Poll.

    The Wisconsin Senate seat being vacated by Herb Kohl is looking like a genuine Republican pick up opportunity, with both Tommy Thompson and Mark Neumann leading all the potential Democratic candidates we tested besides Russ Feingold.

    Feingold, who doesn’t seem terribly interested in running, would still be the strongest potential candidate. He has the best favorability rating of anyone we looked at both overall (49/43) and specifically with independents (52/37). He would have the slightest advantage over Thompson, 48-47, and a more healthy one over Neumann at 51-44. Feingold led them by 10 and 12 points respectively when PPP first looked at this race in May so there’s been a good amount of movement toward the Republicans since that time.

    Good news for the GOP and if former Senator Feingold does NOT run, this will likely be a gain for the GOP next year.

    The entire poll is here.

  • Herb Kohl,  Paul Ryan,  U.S. Senate 2012

    WI-Sen: Herb Kohl is Out and a GOP Senate Majority is More Likely

    U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) speaks at a news conference Friday, May 13, 2011, in Milwaukee. Kohl said he has decided not to run for re-election after serving in the U.S. Senate since 1989

    The conventional wisdom was the GOP had a more than a likely chance they would replace Harry Reid as majority leader and take control of the U.S. Senate after the 2012 elections. This is reinforced by the announced retirement of incumbent democratic Senator Herb Kohl.

    Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will be on everyone’s mind to replace Kohl, but many think he won’t run. After all, he passed up a chance in 2010 to run against Russ Feingold. Republicans also like the state attorney general, J.B. Van Hollen, one of the few Republicans to win statewide in 2006. In 2010 he was reelected with 58 percent of the vote. Unlike other contenders, he could run without risking his current job. Duffy also mentions former congressman Mark Neumann but notes that he “made an unsuccessful bid against Feingold in 1998 and ran for the GOP gubernatorial nomination last year. He got 38 percent after running a dreadful campaign.” A GOP operative with whom I spoke also says “worth mentioning” is wealthy businessman Tim Michels, who ran in 2004.

    For now, the betting on the Hill is that the Senate will flip to a Republican majority. I won’t say “control” because 60 is well out of reach. Nevertheless, with Wisconsin, Virginia, Florida, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, West Virginia and Nebraska as potential pick-ups, the Republicans could wind up in the mid-50s. Much will defend, of course, on the nominees and whether the GOP has a strong candidate at the top of the ticket.

    Wisconsin will also be in play for the Presidential race and will be a key battleground state. With a contested Senate contest, the spending and media attention will accelerate.

    The GOP’s Senate prospects are only looking better.

  • Claire McCaskill,  Ed Martin,  Sarah Steelman,  Todd Akin,  U.S. Senate 2012

    Mo-Sen Poll Watch: Claire McCaskill 46% Vs. Todd Akin 45%

    According to the latest PPP Poll.

    Job Approval Vs. Disapproval:

    • Senator Claire McCaskill – 46% Vs. 47%

    Approval Vs. Disapproval Vs. Not sure:

    • Todd Akin – 18% Vs. 21% Vs. 61%
    • John Brunner – 8% Vs. 19% Vs. 73%
    • Blaine Luetkemeye – 14% Vs. 22% Vs. 64%
    • Ed Martin – 11% Vs. 20% Vs. 70%
    • Sarah Steelman – 26% Vs. 22% Vs. 52%

    General election Head to Head:

    • McCaskill – 46% Vs. Akin – 45%
    • McCaskill – 47% Vs. Brunner – 41%
    • McCaskill – 45% Vs. Luetkemeye – 42%
    • McCaskill – 46% Vs. Martin – 39%
    • McCaskill – 45% Vs. Steelman – 42%

    Missouri Senator Clair McCaskill is vulnerable in 2012 and the GOP is counting on picking up her seat. The latest PPP Poll does nothing to give her campaign any optimism.

    These margins don’t exactly look comfortable for McCaskill and a look inside the numbers suggests they’re likely to get worse. There are a good deal more undecided Republicans than Democrats in all of these match ups- 5% more undecided GOP voters against Steelman, 6% more against Akin, 10% more against Luetkemeyer, 11% more against Brunner, and 12% more against Martin. If those folks end up coming ‘home’ you’re looking at each of the Republican picking up another 2-4 points on the margin.

    Why are there so many more Republican undecideds? The crop of GOP candidates continues to be mostly unknown to voters in the state. None of them reaches 50% name recognition. Steelman is the best known with 48% of voters having an opinion about her, 26% positive and 22% negative. She’s followed by 39% who know Akin (18/21), 36% who know Luetkemeyer (14/22), 31% who know Martin (11/20), and 27% who know Brunner (8/19).

    The state of this race remains the same- McCaskill is one of the most vulnerable incumbents up for reelection next year. But the bad news cycles she endured over the last few months seemed like they had the potential to shift this race to one where she was favored to lose. In that sense the continued toss up status of the contest is good news for her.

    Good news for McCaskill?

    I suppopse she could be behind but with her airplane woes and the lack of GOP hit ads means that worst is yet to come.

    This race will NOT be a toss-up but a GOP gain.

  • Richard Lugar,  Richard Mourdock,  U.S. Senate 2012

    IN-Sen: Sen. Richard Lugar Should Retire Says Club for Growth

    Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 29, 2011. Lugar is the third most senior senator and the most senior Republican member of the Senate, serving since 1977

    Time for Indiana GOP Senator Richard Lugar to retire.

    The president of the Club for Growth encouraged longtime Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) to retire Tuesday rather than seek another term in 2012, warning that the group could get involved in the effort to oust Lugar in a primary.

    In an interview on ABC’s “Top Line” webcast, Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said while no decisions have been made as to whether the club will officially weigh in on the race between Lugar and Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R), “we do have some concerns about Sen. Lugar and his service.”

    “We think it would probably be best if he would retire at this point,” Chocola said of Lugar, who has vowed to beat back a primary challenge and win another term in 2012. “We haven’t made any decisions at this point, but we are looking at it very closely, and it’s one of the races very high on our radar.”

    The handwriting is on the wall for Senator Lugar. He can either retire with grace or be defeated in a bruising and expensive GOP primary election.

    Time for a new generation of leadership, Senator.

  • Polling,  Scott Brown,  U.S. Senate 2012

    MA-Sen Poll Watch: Sen. Scott Brown Safe for 2012?

    Massachusetts Republican U.S. Senator Scott Brown

    Apparently so, according to a DSCC poll.

    Massachusetts is a deeply Democratic state, one in which barely more than 15 percent of the seats in the state Legislature are held by Republicans and fewer than 15 percent of all registered voters belong to the GOP. So it’s hardly surprising that national Democrats have been making noise about defeating the state’s Republican senator, Scott Brown, when he stands for reelection next year.

    “It’s a priority for us,” Guy Cecil, the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told the Boston Globe when he made a two-day trip to the Bay State earlier this month.

    But the DSCC received some bad news this week when a poll it commissioned found that Brown’s popularity is soaring. The survey, which has been seen by at least one D.C. insider and was detailed for Salon, measured Brown’s approval rating at 73 percent — easily surpassing the scores for Barack Obama and the state’s two top Democrats,  Gov. Deval Patrick and Sen. John Kerry. It also found him running over the magic 50 percent mark against every potential Democratic challenger, and crushing the strongest perceived Democrats (Reps. Michael Capuano and Ed Markey and former Rep. Marty Meehan) by double-digit margins. The results only grew closer when respondents were primed with negative information about Brown.

    Good news for the GOP in taking over the U.S. Senate majority in 2012. The Republicans need to win a net of three seats to replace Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader.

  • Bill Nelson,  Polling,  U.S. Senate 2012

    FL-Sen Poll Watch: Sen. Bill Nelson in Decent Shape?

    Maybe, according to the latest PPP Poll.

    Job Approval Vs. Disapproval:

    Senator Bill Nelson: 38% Vs. 34%

    38% of voters approve of the job Nelson’s doing to 34% who disapprove. Those numbers sound uninspiring but the main reason for them is that only 55% of Democrats approve of the job he’s doing, where you’d usually expect someone to be in the 70-80% range within their own party. Nelson gets 74-80% of the Democratic vote against each of the Republicans we tested him against so this is a classic case where his base might not love him, but they’re still going to vote for him.

    While Nelson doesn’t generate much enthusiasm from within his own party, he’s also not much of a turn off to Republicans. An unusually high 21% of them approve of the job he’s doing and he gets as much as 19% of the GOP vote in the head to heads against named Republicans.

    Most of the time people focus on politicians’ approval number when analyzing their reelection chances and if you do that in Nelson’s case 38% doesn’t look so hot. I think it might be more instructive here though to look at Nelson’s disapproval number- is someone who only 34% of voters are unhappy with really going to get tossed out of office? Seems doubtful- certainly didn’t happen to any Senators or Governors last year.

    Yes, but Nelson is still not viewed very favorably for an incumbent and that is a good sign for the GOP.

    A bad sign for the Republicans though is that the candidates that poll the best against Nelson are not going to run.

    Connie Mack IV, who announced he wouldn’t seek the office after we’d already started the poll, trailed Nelson by 13 points at 47-34. Another incredibly long shot candidate, MSNBC host and former Congressman Joe Scarborough, trails by 13 points as well at 45-32. Among the more plausible candidates former Senator George LeMieux does best but still trails by 15 points at 48-33. Mike Haridopolos and Adam Hasner trail by 16 points at 50-34 and 48-32 respectively, and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales does the worst with a 19 point deficit at 47-28.

    Head to Head:

    • 50% Nelson (D), 34% Haridopolis (R)
    • 48% Nelson (D), 32% Hasner (R)
    • 48% Nelson (D), 33% LeMieux (R)
    • 47% Nelson (D), 34% Mack (R)
    • 45% Nelson (D), 32% Scarborough (R)
    • 47% Nelson (D), 28% Wales (R)

    Favorable Vs UnFavorable:

    • Mike Haridopolis: 9 / 23
    • Adam Hasner: 6 / 17
    • George LeMieux: 8 / 22
    • Connie Mack IV: 21 / 23
    • Joe Scarborough: 15 / 20
    • Jimmy Wales: 3 / 14

    The GOP wants a pick-up in Florida. They just have to decide on a candidate and run him hard. Certainly, Nelson’s lack of favorability at this point smells like vulnerability but the NRSC and the Florida GOP have to understand that they will have to work hard to throw Nelson and hence Harry Reid out of office/majority.

  • Dianne Feinstein,  U.S. Senate 2012

    CA-Sen: Sen Dianne Feinstein in Re-Election Trouble? Uh No

    California Democratic U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein

    The must be smoking crack over at Hot Air to even suggest that DiFi is in any trouble.

    A new poll from California shows Dianne Feinstein falling below 50% in re-elect support, a rating than in any other state might mean something.  McClatchy sends up the red flag from the latest Harris Poll, which gives the four-term Senator only a +4 on support for a fifth term, hitting below 50%: (…)

    Despite this poll analysis, Senator Feinstein is very safe, especially with the expected turnout for Obama’s re-election to be high. I mean, if Carly Fiorina gets blown out by 10 points against Sen. Barbara Boxer who was much less popular and there was a lower Dem turnout of voters…..

    And, should Feinstein, who will be 78 in June, have health problems, the California Dems have a deep bench with Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa ready to duke it out as her replacement.

  • Debbie Stabenow,  Peter Hoekstra,  Saul Anuzis,  Terri Lynn Land,  U.S. Senate 2012

    MI-Sen Poll Watch: Dem Sen Debbie Stabenow Looking Better for Re-Election?

    Yes, according to the latest PPP Poll.

    Favorable Vs. Unfavorable:

    • Sen. Debbie Stabenow –  46% Vs. 39% (41% vs. 40% in December)
    • Terri Lynn Land – 37% Vs. 19%, GOP – 55% Vs. 7%
    • Pete Hoekstra – 30% Vs. 28%, GOP – 52% Vs. 9%
    • Saul Anuzis – only 20% know enough about for an opinion
    • Randy Hekman – only 17% of voters claim an opinion

    Head to Head:

    • Stabenow – 48% Vs. Land – 38%
    • Stabenow – 50% Vs. Hoekstra – 38%
    • Stabenow – 52% Vs. Anuzis – 35%
    • Stabenow – 52% Vs. Hekman – 33%

    It looks like this Michigan Senate seat will not be in GOP cross-hairs in 2012. With a large 2012 African-American turnout to re-elect President Obama, the GOP will be faced with insurmountable Democratic registration numbers in this blue state.

    For the past few election cycles, with a poor economic climate in Michigan and the loss of jobs, Republicans also hope for a pick-up of some sort.

    Won’t happen in 2012.

    The full poll is here.