Let’s start with the national picture, then move to key Senate races. In a fresh CBS News poll, Republicans hold a six point lead on the generic Congressional ballot — matching their final 2010 margin in this series:
As a point of comparison, Fox’s national survey released last week had the GOP ahead by a similar margin, 47-40. It’s historically rare for Republicans to have any advantage on this indicator, so what explains their substantial edge here? How about a 30 point lead among independents, and an eight-point enthusiasm gap. And then there’s this…
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlakeWP) October 8, 2014
Despite some positive economic news in recent weeks, just 29 percent voters thinks the US economy is improving. Maybe Obama should give another speech. On the question of whether the president has “a clear plan for dealing with ISIS,” respondents break “no” by 30 points. This president is toxic. Reuters has him dipping back into the 30’s:
But the real action is in the Senate. We’ve been wondering for weeks if and when individual Senate races would start to more closely reflect the national mood. Well, a Fox’s bipartisan pollster unleashed a deluge of state-level numbers last evening:
Alaska: Sullivan (R) 44, Begich (D) 40. +4 (Update: CNN’s new Alaska poll has Sullivan up six).
Arkansas: Cotton (R) 46, Pryor (D) 39. +7
Colorado: Gardner (R) 43, Udall (D) 37. +6
Kansas: Roberts (R) 44, Orman (I/D) 39. +5
Kentucky: McConnell (R) 45, Grimes (D) 41. +4
Lots of undecideds in those numbers, obviously, which begs the question of which direction those uncommitted voters are likely to break (if they vote at all). Check out POTUS’ job approval in these states:
Crosstabs indicate that undecided voters in Alaska and Arkansas, for instance, disapprove of Obama by roughly a two-to-one margin. That’s some tough sledding. As the New York Times noted this week, if Republicans can bring their Kansas voters “home,” the GOP’s shot at netting at least six Senate seats and reclaiming the majority is a lot cleaner. Fox’s Jayhawk data from marks the third poll in less than a week that shows momentum for Roberts; the NYT/CBS/YouGov poll had the race tied, and CNN’s latest gives Roberts a narrow edge. In North Carolina, don’t look now, but two new polls show Thom Tillis within two points of Kay Hagan. Those surveys were in the field before a stammering Hagan couldn’t name a vote on which she regrets supporting Obama (who’s underwater by 17 points in the state) in a televised debate, and finally admitted that she’d skipped a key hearing on ISIS for a fundraiser. Meanwhile, in Louisiana:
— Logan Dobson (@LoganDobson) October 8, 2014
Canning your campaign manager in October of an election year emits a strong whiff of desperation. In fairness, the likely runoff election in this race doesn’t roll around until December 6, so the timeline isn’t quite as crazy as it may otherwise appear. But still, the Senator “from Louisiana” is in real trouble. With good news sprouting up everywhere for Republicans over the last 24 hours, I feel compelled to issue requisite admonitions: This is one good round of polling, the electorate can be fickle, other surveys paint a less rosy picture, and important dynamics can shift over three weeks. That said, these are undeniably positive signs — and taken together, they make Noah’s description of the DSCC’s South Dakota ‘feint’ look pretty solid right about now.