I was struck by the similarity between Ohio and Connecticut in this morning’s releases from Quinnipiac for the midterm elections, among other results. In both states, the gubernatorial races have come down to virtual dead heats, with the Republican nominees edging their Democratic counterparts in each. Meanwhile, the Senate races seem all but decided, with the parties splitting the pair.
First, let’s look at Ohio:
The race for Ohio governor is a dead heat with Republican John Kasich getting 47 percent of likely voters to 46 percent for Democratic incumbent Gov. Ted Strickland, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
In the U.S. Senate race, Republican Rob Portman has an insurmountable 56 – 37 percent lead over Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University survey, conducted by live interviewers, finds.
Strickland, who had trailed by double digits earlier in the fall campaign, is leading among Democrats 90 – 6 percent, but Kasich is ahead among Republicans 83 – 10 percent and independent voters 57 – 36 percent in the survey completed Saturday of those who say they are likely to vote or have already cast their ballots.
Critical to the outcome are the 6 percent of likely voters who remain undecided and another 5 percent who have selected a candidate but say they could change their mind.
It seems a little odd that Portman could sail to a 19-point lead in an open seat while Strickland gets this close in defending his incumbency. The draw from a close gubernatorial race should be seen in the Senate race regardless of the nature of the candidates involved. Are we to imagine that Democrats turning out for Strickland just won’t cast a vote for Fisher, or will back the incumbent Strickland despite his failures while backing Portman for an open Senate seat? I’d either guess that the Senate race is actually closer, or that the turnout model that supports the virtual-tie final poll is a little too generous for Democrats.
The reverse is true in the Nutmeg State, where the Senate race shows the Republican nominee for the Senate nine points back but the GOP nominee for governor three points up:
In the Connecticut U.S. Senate race, Republican Linda McMahon has narrowed the gap slightly in the last week but still trails State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the Democrat, 53 – 44 percent among likely voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
This compares to a 54 – 42 percent Blumenthal lead in an October 26 likely voter survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll.
The governor’s race is now too close to call, with 48 percent of likely voters for Republican Tom Foley and 45 percent for Democrat Dan Malloy, compared to a small 48 – 43 percent Malloy lead October 26.
In today’s Senate survey, Blumenthal leads 93 -6 percent among Democrats while McMahon is ahead 87 – 13 percent among Republicans. Independent voters, who went 56 – 40 percent for Blumenthal last week, now tip 49 – 44 percent for McMahon. Only 3 percent are undecided and 5 percent of voters who name a candidate say they could change their mind.
In an e-mail blast this morning, McMahon’s camp points out that the polling took place “last week,” although Quinnipiac conducted the interviews from 10/25 to yesterday, according to their report. Still, the sudden shift in polling among independents also raises questions about the accuracy of the outcome. That is a 21-point shift in the gap in a week, and their earlier interviews may have missed at least part of the effect. If McMahon is riding a wave among independents, that may well bring her much closer to Blumenthal than the Q-poll suggests. The support for Foley may not be as indicative in the Senate race as the support for Portman is in Ohio’s gubernatorial race, however, as Connecticut voters tend to elect Republicans to the office while sending Democrats to Congress.
McMahon is still a long shot in a tough state for Republicans to win, but don’t be surprised if this comes in closer than people think. A bigger wave may just float McMahon to the top and sink Blumenthal.