Polls: Republicans Gain in Key Senate Races

Posted: Dec 11, 2013 1:18 PM
Polls: Republicans Gain in Key Senate Races

Last month, Senate Democrats triggered the so-called nuclear option, breaking the upper chamber's rules to change the rules on the minority party's ability to block presidential nominees. Harry Reid and friends exploited their power-grab yesterday by confirming the first in a parade of controversial Obama appointments. Amidst Reid's nuclear threats, GOP lawmakers often warned Democrats that they may live to regret their decision if the balance of power were to shift in the United States Senate. According to a fresh round of polling, that could very well happen next year. An analyst at Rothenberg political report recommends that Democrats "open their minds" to the possibility of another "midterm mess." An email from the National Republican Senatorial Committee boasts that GOP candidates are now tied or leading in eight battleground races. The GOP needs to net five seats to regain a majority -- a task that also requires playing airtight defense on seats currently controlled by the party. One of the most vulnerable incumbents in America is Sen. Mark Pryor, who's taken to playing up his faith in television ads as a barely-disguised means of seeking penance for his unpopular Obamacare vote. A new poll of Arkansas voters indicates why Pryor already appears to be employing a kitchen sink strategy to save his political skin:

Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor trails his Republican challenger, Rep. Tom Cotton, by seven points among likely voters in Arkansas, 48 percent to 41 percent, according to a new poll from a conservative group that says his support of the health care reform law is costing him. The survey, shared exclusively with POLITICO, was conducted Friday and Saturday for the Citizens United Political Victory Fund by Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway of the polling company, Inc./WomanTrend. Cotton is ahead among independents by 21 points and among women by 4 points. The last published numbers from this marquee match-up came in the midst of October’s government shutdown and before the national focus turned to the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, which Pryor voted for. Four polls taken that month showed the race within the margin of error. In this latest survey, 62 percent of those polled have an unfavorable view of the health care law — 56 percent strongly so.

While Republicans enjoy substantial leads in three contests over soon-to-be open Democrat-held seats (South Dakota, Montana, West Virginia), the party is also faring surprisingly well in Michigan, where a Democratic poll shows potential GOP nominee Terri Lynn Land ahead of her liberal opponent, thanks in large measure to Obamacare. Land is leading or tied in other public polling of this race, too. Incidentally, the NRSC's aforementioned eight states does not include places like Colorado -- where the Democratic incumbent's re-elect numbers are very shaky -- or Oregon, where Republicans may field a strong female challenger to Sen. Jeff Merkley. And of course, there's an anvil named Barack Obama weighing down Democrats across the country. A brand new McClatchy/Marist poll shows the president's job approval sinking to its lowest level ever within this survey series:

Banning Straws
John Stossel

Obama’s disapproval rating climbed to 53 percent – the worst in 29 polls since he took office in January 2009 – while 43 percent approved of his job performance. The disapproval number was up sharply from the 47 percent reading in September and tops the previous high of 52 percent in September 2011...Obama’s personal ratings were also down. By 52 percent to 46 percent, people had an unfavorable impression of him, the first time since November 2011 the negative number was higher. The unfavorable number was also the worst he’s endured.

A fresh CBS News poll demonstrates Americans' persistent pessimism on the economy, an issue on which the president is underwater by 21 points. And then there's Obamacare, which is a hot mess of shattered promises and unhappy consumers. The National Republican Congressional Committee is up with new radio ads hitting endangered Democratic House incumbents who support the law. Here's one spot directed at Rep. Carol Shea Porter in New Hampshire:

Two additional ads can be heard HERE and HERE. I'll have an in-depth preview of the 2014 Senate landscape in the January edition of Townhall Magazine.