Over the last 24 hours, a series of polls for Senate races have been released from Marist and Rasmussen, and all of them look good for the GOP. In three states which would provide key pickups for Republicans, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, their candidates have taken leads and have picked up some momentum heading into the last month of the campaign. In all three states, the losses will be a profound statement of Democratic erosion.
PENNSYLVANIA: Democrats got this seat via a party defection on the part of Arlen Specter, who then got as badly rejected by his new party as he did his old one. That hasn’t helped Democrats keep a grip on this seat, and one has to wonder whether Specter’s switch hurt them more with a tough primary fight than it did Republicans in the end. Pat Toomey has extended his lead in both the Rasmussen and Marist polls to nine points, 49/40 and 51/42, respectively. The Marist poll is a fresh entry in the survey sweepstakes, and since we’ve reviewed Rasmussen extensively in the PA race, let’s take a closer look at Marist instead.
The enthusiasm numbers among likely voters for both are interesting; combining those expressing at least some enthusiasm, they’re close to tied, with Toomey at 87% and Sestak at 80%. However, 55% of Toomey voters consider themselves “very enthusiastic,” while only 35% of Sestak voters consider themselves at the same level of enthusiasm. In the end, this could be bigger than a nine-point blowout. The same dynamic takes place in the gubernatorial race as well, and Marist has Republican Tom Corbett twelve points ahead of Democrat Dan Onorato, 53/41. With two big Republican runaway races at the top of the ticket, Democrats will likely see a down-ticket wave that will mean they lose the closer races in Congressional and state-legislature contests, too.
WISCONSIN: Rasmussen released a poll showing a 12-point lead for Republican challenger Ron Johnson over incumbent Democrat and progressive banner-carrier Russ Feingold earlier this week. Marist confirms that finding, showing Johnson leading by a slightly smaller margin, 52/45. Both candidates hold their party almost perfectly, but Johnson has a 23-point lead among independents, 58/35. The very enthusiastic among voters favor Johnson, 60/38, while the less enthusiastic favor Feingold 55/42.
The gubernatorial poll from Marist looks even better, with Scott Walker ahead of Tom Barrett by eight at 51/43. This is another traditionally Democratic state that appears to be going from blue to red without a stop in purple-land.
COLORADO: Marist confirms that Ken Buck has moved out to a strong lead over incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet, 50/42. In this race, independents split almost equally, 44/43 for Buck, with party unity the rule again. Enthusiasm will play a big role in Colorado, as Buck wins the “very enthusiastic” vote 59/34, while Bennet does better among the less enthusiastic. Bennet wins the Denver/Boulder area and loses everywhere else in the state, including Denver’s suburbs.
In this state, though, the news gets tempered by the debacle of the Dan Maes bid for governor. Democratic mayor of Denver John Hickenlooper gets 48% of the vote in a three-way race. That will mean that Democrats will keep a toehold in a state that should have flipped back to full red in this cycle — a real missed opportunity.
KENTUCKY: Polling is traditionally difficult in Kentucky, as Democrats tend to be well-entrenched and a lot less liberal than their colleagues from other states. Rasmussen, however, continues to see Rand Paul with a significant lead over Jack Conway, 49/38. That is down from a 54/39 lead three weeks ago, and Paul has dropped below the 50% threshold that usually means a comfortable position this close to an election. Still, the issues are with Paul, and strongly so. Sixty-two percent of likely voters want ObamaCare repealed, and the same percentage says that federal government policies have the nation on the wrong course. Those aren’t numbers likely to produce a Democratic victory in the Senate in 2010, no matter who that candidate might be.