In the open Senate race, former Rep. Rob Portman, the former U.S. trade chief and budget director, leads Democrat Lee Fisher 43 percent to 36 percent among likely voters, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Or take a look at Democrat-heavy Connecticut, where Democratic state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a career politician, should be a shoo-in. But former World Wrestling Entertainment executive Linda McMahon has put this race in play, as a result of nearly 9 percent jobless rate and revelations that Blumenthal has repeatedly lied about serving in the Vietnam War.
Blumenthal began the race with a huge 30-point lead, but the latest Quinnipiac Poll shows his lead dropping toward the single digits. Notably, the poll also shows that among independents, the largest bloc of voters in the state, McMahon now leads by 46 percent to 44 percent.
Other once safely held Democratic Senate seats are in jeopardy in Washington state, where Sen. Patty Murray is struggling, and in California where Sen. Barbara Boxer is in the political fight of her life against former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina.
Both these Democratic seats, plus Feingold's in Wisconsin, were not regarded as endangered a few months ago, but now they are seen as potential GOP pickups. "Adding Wisconsin to the tossup list brings the number of Democratic-held seats that are tossups or lean in Republicans' favor to 11, one more than the Republicans would need to capture a (Senate) majority," Duffy writes in a recent Cook analysis.
The jobless economy's weakness is going to be the driving force in this election along with Obama's impotence to effectively deal with it. The latest Gallup Poll shows his economic-approval ratings now at a dismal 38 percent. Worse, a deeper feeling of pessimism permeates the electorate. This week's Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows that "nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the economy has yet to hit bottom."
Increasingly, polls show that voters think the Republicans -- with their emphasis on lower taxes, tax incentives for increased business investment and less government spending -- have better ideas than the Democrats.
With Obama and his party planning to sharply raise taxes at the end of his year on upper incomes, small businesses, investors, capital gains and retirees who depend on dividends for income, it's easy to see why the voters are preparing to toss the Democrats out of office in November.
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