Running the Stats

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Aug 18, 2006 8:49 AM

You should always, always, always read Michael Barone. Because he knows things:

Two embattled Republican senators have seen sharp and, I think, statistically significant rises in job approval in SurveyUSA's midmonth surveys between May and August. See the job approval numbers below:

May June July August
Rick Santorum (Pa.) 36% 36% 43% 48%
Jim Talent (Mo.) 43% 48% 49% 52%

This is evidence that their campaigning is paying off. Two recent polls have shown Santorum within single digits of Democrat Bob Casey Jr.: Quinnipiac (48 to 42 percent) and Morning Call/Muhlenberg (45 to 39 percent). Santorum's campaigning has put him back in contention, but he's still definitely behind. Talent is getting good job approval numbers in the Ozarks (54 percent) and Central (58 percent) regions, both heavily Republican areas he needs to carry by big margins in order to win, and he gets 54 percent in the St. Louis region, his home area, which Democrats have carried in recent close races. His worst performance is in the Kansas City region (42 percent), which has often lacked media attention and been more volatile in elections than the rest of Missouri. An obvious target for his advertising dollars.

Jon Kyl, who has a deep-pockets opponent and whom Democrats have had some hope of beating, also enjoyed a significant rise in job approval in August.

May June July August
Jon Kyl (Ariz.) 44% 45% 47% 53%

Another long-shot Democratic target, George Allen, has had a steady rating just barely above 50 percent.

May June July August
George Allen (Va.) 53% 52% 51% 51%

Of course, Allen will undoubtedly take a hit due to the Macaca dust-up, and Barone goes on to note a couple Republicans whose ratings are slipping. He bottom-lines it, here:

Democrats are well positioned to make gains in Senate seats. But it's still too early to say just how many. They need to sweep the five Republican seats mentioned above, hold all their own seats, and gain one more to get a Senate majority. They have a good candidate for Bill Frist's seat in Tennessee in Rep. Harold Ford, but since the primary earlier this month he's been running behind the Republican nominee, Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker, by small margins, which look a lot like the small margins by which Republican Lamar Alexander ran ahead of Democrat Bob Clement in the 2004 cycle. Alexander won 54 to 44 percent. The other seats Democrats have targeted, in Arizona and Virginia, still look like longshots.

In other poll news, Nedrenaline took another hit this week:

Don’t look now, but according to the latest Quinnipiac Poll, Joe Lieberman has a 53-41 lead over Ned Lamont. Perhaps more dispiriting for the nutroots will be the fact that Lieberman has a 55-40 approval rating amongst Nutmeggers, putting him in something of a comfort zone. The Quinnipiac polling director detects the obvious: “Ned Lamont's Democratic primary win was based on a very small percentage of voters statewide. He must expand beyond this base if he is going to beat Lieberman.”

Hugh thinks the NSA decision of yesterday means things will get worse before they get better for Ned Lamont Democrats.

Betsy wonders if the Dems trying to strip Lieberman of his seniority on Senate committees really want a Jim Jeffords on their hands when they may have a chance at Majority Leader Reid.

Erick Erickson is covering the "You Are Doomed" coverage of Republicans in the WaPo. Apparently, the security moms are bugging out on us, but I imagine Democrats could fix that pretty quickly by trumpeting yesterday's terrorist-friendly NSA decision as a victory.

But surely they wouldn't do that. Hmm.

Real Clear Politics wonders if Dems can thread the national security needle this year-- opposing the War in Iraq but avoiding being thought of as soft on terror. Seems the NSA decision makes it harder for them to do that.

Poll numbers in the past have shown a majority of Americans are down with the NSA's efforts.