What the Latest Polls Told Us -- 9/17/2010 Edition

What the Latest Polls Told Us -- 9/17/2010 Edition

By Sean Trende - September 17, 2010


The House goes first today, because we have three generic ballot polls, pointing to very different results. Public Policy Polling (D) finds Democrats leading Republicans by a point, 45 to 44 percent. It is worth noting that PPP is using its “voters” model, which asks if you’re a registered voter and then screens out those who haven’t voted in at least one of the last three elections. In other words, it screens out any new Republican voters, but allows all of the Obama and ’06 surge voters through. Sure enough, if you take their crosstabs and assume an ’08 electorate, you get a 45/43 Democratic edge. If you assume an ’04 electorate, however, you get a 46/43 Republican edge.

The Battlegound poll is a venerable joint venture between Celinda Lake and Tarrance Group. In this iteration, we see a 43/43 split. It is worth noting that in 1994, they showed a 39/39 split between the parties.  

Finally, AP/GfK weighs in with a likely voter poll showing Republicans with 53 percent of the vote, and Democrats with 43 percent of the vote, a surge for the Republicans from AP’s 49/45 result in August (which is probably due to switching over to a likely voter model). 

Interestingly, all three models (if you adjust PPP) show Democrats with 43 percent of the vote, which is about what they have received in polls since December.

DE-ALPPP (D) polled the Delaware At-Large House race, and found Lieutenant Governor Carney leading millionaire Glen Urquhart 48 percent to 37 percent. This is one of the Democrats’ few good pickup opportunities this cycle, but we have to note that Carney is a statewide officeholder below 50 percent. Still, he is well-positioned to win this seat.

WA-03SurveyUSA finds some movement toward Democrat Joe Heck in this open district, although it might reflect nothing more than the dissipation of Republican Jaime Herrera’s post-primary bounce. Herrera leads 52 percent to 43 percent.

MI-09 – There are quite a few districts that have been ignored by the pollsters, so it’s a relief to see a poll in this swing district, where Democrat Gary Peters knocked off long-term Congressman Joe Knollenberg last year. Former state legislator Rocky Raczkowski leads Peters 45 percent to 40.7 percent, according to Rossman’s independent polling. The poll also found Republicans well-positioned to sweep the statewide races.

KS-04 – Briefly, this open race in this Wichita-based, heavily Republican district looks to be closer than expected. Democrat Raj Goyle has put out a few polls showing a close race, and now shows himself trailing Republican Mike Pompeo 44 percent to 46 percent. SurveyUSA shows Pompeo up 50 to 40 percent, which is still a much smaller lead than we’d expect.

Campaign Polls:

MS-01 (Tarrance (R)) – Childers (D) 41 percent, Nunnelee (R) 48 percent.

MD-01 (Garin Hart Yang (D)) – Kratovil (D) 45 percent, Harris (R) 39 percent – bad news when Kratovil’s campaign polls show him at 45 percent, and within Harris’s error margin.

IA-02 (Tarrance (R)) – Loebsack (D) 41 percent, Miller-Meeks (R) 40 percent.


DelawareRasmussen Reports finds Chris Coons leading Christine O’Donnell 53 percent to 42 percent. O’Donnell has raised a ton of money in a short period of time, so she will have no problem getting her message out. Still, it’s a steep hill to climb. She can probably get the voters who voted for George W. Bush in 2004 without too much difficulty in this environment; it’s convincing some of the 53 percent of voters who went for both Kerry and Obama that will be difficult.

Washington – With the probable loss of the Delaware Senate seat, Republicans need to sweep Washington, Wisconsin, California and Nevada. It was unlikely that they’d win three of the four beforehand, and winning all four is a bit more difficult. Now it looks like Washington may be getting away from them, as Senator Patty Murray takes to the airwaves. Rasmussen Reports finds her leading Dino Rossi 51 percent to 46 percent, the third pollster in a row to show her with a lead. The president isn’t as radioactive here as he is elsewhere, as he maintains a 49/50 approval rating.  Murray leads by four points in the RCP Average.

Illinois We Ask America finds what other pollsters are finding, namely that Mark Kirk is opening up a slight lead, although still within the error margin and with a ton of undecideds. Kirk leads by a narrow 1.3 point margin in the RCP Average. This race is about as close as you can get to a coin toss.

New HampshireRasmussen Reports weighs in with slightly better news for Kelly Ayotte than PPP found. Ayotte leads Hodes 51 percent to 44 percent. That’s closer than the 12-15 point lead Rasmussen has typically found this cycle for Ayotte. The race has clearly tightened, but Ayotte hasn’t trailed Hodes all cycle, and leads by 6.4 points in the RCP Average.

Arkansas – I’ve mentioned before that if Lincoln falls below 33 percent, she’ll have the lowest re-election of any Senator in history. According to Mason-Dixon, she is narrowly avoiding that fate, losing to John Boozman 51 percent to 34 percent. The RCP Average is less kind; she trails 57.4 percent to 31.4 percent. It is hard to see a scenario where she wins.


Minnesota – Republican Tom Emmer seems to be closing a once-formidable gap with former Senator Mark Dayton, according to SurveyUSA. Dayton now leads 38 percent to 36 percent, with 18 percent for Independence candidate Tom Horner. Conventional wisdom holds that third parties fade come October, but not usually in Minnesota. Dayton leads by 5.3 points in the RCP Average, but this is the second poll in a row showing a tight race.

Ohio – This one is starting to look as boring as the 2006 governor’s race. According to Quinnipiac, John Kasich leads incumbent Governor Ted Strickland, 54 percent to 37 percent. 52 percent of voters have an unfavorable impression of Governor Strickland, while Kasich enjoys a 47/27 positive split. Worse, 59 percent disapprove of the job he’s doing. This one is fast getting away from the governor, if it hasn’t done so already. Kasich leads by 10.8 points in the RCP Average.

Oregon – Let the jokes about hoping Chris Dudley manages the state better than he shoots free throws begin! SurveyUSA finds Dudley leading former Governor John Kitzhaber 49 percent to 43 percent. Dudley leads by 3.4 points in the RCP Average, but the fundamentals of the race – outsider versus former incumbent, a well-known statewide officeholder stuck at 44 percent or so – don’t bode well for Kitzhaber.

NevadaRasmussen Reports finds a closer race than many other pollsters are finding in the Nevada governor’s race. Former Judge Brian Sandoval leads Rory Reid by a 52-39 percent margin. No one else is seeing this result, so this might just be movement within the error margin. Sandoval leads by 21.2 points in the RCP Average.

New Hampshire – Governor John Lynch usually wins with 70 percent of the vote, but not this time. Public Policy Polling finds that his lead over John Stephen is 51 points to 39 points. Stephen isn’t getting much of a primary bounce here, and Lynch definitely remains the favorite, although this race is definitely a candidate to tighten. Lynch leads by 16 points in the RCP Average. [Ed Note:  A few helpful readers point out that this poll was taken prior to the primary.  This would certainly explain the lack of a bounce]

Sean Trende is senior elections analyst for RealClearPolitics. He is a co-author of the 2014 Almanac of American Politics and author of The Lost Majority. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @SeanTrende.

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