What the Latest Polls Told Us - Monday Edition

What the Latest Polls Told Us - Monday Edition

By Sean Trende - September 20, 2010

Once again, the most interesting polls over the weekend were of the House races. We'll look at those first, but before that, we’ll take a quick look at the PPP presidential poll.


PPP (D) took a poll of the various 2012 contenders. The findings:

Mike Huckabee is the only possible GOP contender polling ahead of Obama this month, at 47/44. Going from arguably most pleasant to most angry across the spectrum of leading Republicans you then have Obama ahead of Mitt Romney 46-43, Newt Gingrich 47-43, Sarah Palin 49-43, and Glenn Beck 48-39.

Obviously the state of the economy and President Obama’s interaction with the 112th Congress will be the biggest determinants of the outcome of the 2012 elections. But the PPP polls show the importance of the electorate. PPP polls “voters” for this sample, which is defined as registered voters who have voted in any one of the last three elections.

The basic effect of this is to let through all Obama surge voters, whether they plan on voting again or not. And sure enough, if you compare the 2008 exit polls with the crosstabs, you end up with results similar to what PPP finds.

But it is by no means clear that Obama can “put the band back together.” Re-electing the first black president isn’t as exciting as electing him for the first time, and younger voters who flocked to vote for him in 2008 might be less thrilled in 2012. If you put in the 2004 exit poll numbers – somewhere between the 2008 and likely 2010 numbers, the head-to-heads are quite a bit worse for Obama. He trails Huckabee 49-42, Romney 45-44, and trails Palin 47-44 and trails Gingrich by a narrow 45.3-44.8 margin.


Fox Generic – The FoxNews poll of registered voters finds that Republicans lead by six points in the RCP Average, 46 percent to 40 percent. Republicans maintain a substantial edge over Democrats in enthusiasm as well. 50 percent of Democrats are at least very interested in the election, while 75 percent of Republicans are.

Interestingly, the number of Republicans who are at least very interested in the elections is up 10 points from the July reading. The number of Democrats who are at least very interested has declined by nine points. Republicans lead by six points in the RCP Average.

NY-20 – Not what you would expect in a swing district in a year like this, but Democrat Scott Murphy, who only narrowly won a special election to replace now-Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, now leads Republican Chris Gibson 54 percent to 37 percent, according to independent pollster Siena. This is in stark contrast to earlier polling from Republican pollster Whit Ayers showing Murphy up by only five points, and well under 50 percent.

MN-06 – Even though this is a reasonably safe Republican seat, controversial incumbent Michele Bachmann will probably never be truly safe. Nevertheless, she did manage to win in 2006 and 2008, and this cycle she seems a little bit stronger than in the past. According to SurveyUSA, she leads DFL state Senator Tarryl Clark 49 to 40 percent, just close enough to the 50 percent mark that she can probably feel pretty confident about her chances.

ID-01 – Walt Minnick represents the third-most Republican seat in the country held by a Democrat (ranked by PVI), yet he is one of the safer Democratic incumbents. Qualtrics, polling for KREM, finds that Minnick leads his GOP opponent, Raul Labrador, 60 percent to 30 percent. It also appears that Republicans will hold the Senate seat and Governor’s mansion.

VT-AL – Democrats everywhere are a bit nervous about holding their seats this cycle, but not in Delaware. According to Rasmussen Reports, Peter Welch leads conservative activist Paul Beaudry 64 percent to 30 percent. Oddly, this was one of the closer seats in 2006, when moderate Republican Rainville held Welch to 53 percent in an outstanding Democratic year.

PA-15 – Charlie Dent is frequently pointed to by Democrats as a potentially vulnerable GOPer this cycle. He faces a well-funded, high profile challenge from Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, in a district that leans a tick toward the Democrats. But according to Pennsylvania pollster Muhlenberg, Dent leads Callahan 49 percent to 38 percent. When you figure in the independent candidate, Dent is effectively above the 50 percent mark. This may be a classic example of the right candidate at the wrong time.

ME-01 – A Critical Insights poll, funded by a consortium of Maine media companies, finds results similar to a recent PPP (D) poll of the state. Pingree leads Republican Dean Scontras 53 percent to 29 percent. But Scontras is getting some high-profile fundraising help, and may be able to close the gap. RCP rates this one Leans Democrat.

ME-02 – In the less heavily Democratic 2nd District, which is the northern tier of the state, incumbent Mike Michaud looks a bit more vulnerable than Pingree. Michaud leads Republican Jason Levesque 48 percent to 28 percent, with 24 percent undecided. Michaud is under 50 percent, and he almost failed to retain the seat for Democrats in 2002 – a better year for Democrats than 2010 is shaping up to be.

WA-03SurveyUSA finds Republican Jaime Herrera still in the lead in this evenly-matched swing district. She leads Democrat Denny Heck 52 percent to 43 percent. Depending on how you look at things, this represents either a narrowing from the previous ballot test, or movement within the error margin.

TN-04 – Buried deep within this report from Roll Call is an internal poll from Congressman Lincoln Davis (D) showing him up over his Republican opponent 51 percent to 40 percent. This still isn’t great news for the congressman, who has supported the national Democratic agenda a bit more than usual this cycle. If you assume that his poll shows him in the best light, then he’s probably roughly in a tie right now, which is a dangerous place to be.


Wisconsin – Probably the biggest news over the weekend was a Rasmussen Reports poll showing Senator Russ Feingold (D) trailing Republican businessman Ron Johnson 51 percent to 44 percent. Rasmussen will frequently find a post-primary bounce that fades, but it is worth noting that Feingold’s numbers have been remarkably stable over time. Feingold trails by a point in the RCP Average.

Georgia – In case you were dying to know, Republican Senator Johnny Isakson looks to be headed for a second term. Mason Dixon and Insider Advantage both show Isakson leading his Democratic opponent by double-digits. He leads by 18.3 points in the RCP Average.

IndianaRasmussen Reports finds former Senator Dan Coats leading Congressman Brad Ellsworth 50 percent to 34 percent. It is a little disconcerting for Coats to be at 50 percent in this environment, but he’s still a heavy favorite to take the seat.

OhioQuinnipiac finds Rob Portman (R) leading AG Lee Fisher (D) by 20 points. Fisher is going to have a hard time winning when voters disapprove of the job President Obama is doing by a 22-point margin. Portman leads by 11.3 points in the RCP Average.

Maryland – Conservatives who are agitating to support Christine O’Donnell would do well to take a look at the Maryland Senate race. Republican Eric Wargotz trails Barbara Mikulski 54 percent to 38 percent, according to Rasmussen Reports. That’s starting to get in the neighborhood of the O’Donnell/Coons race, and as far as I know, Wargotz doesn’t have O’Donnell’s baggage.



New Hampshire – Another big piece of news was the Rasmussen Reports poll showing newly-minted gubernatorial nominee John Stephen pulling within two points of Governor John Lynch, 48 percent to 46 percent. Again, Rasmussen typically shows a large post-primary bounce for victorious candidates, but Lynch has been cruising around 50 percent for a while and should be spooked by the poll. This is a bit of a contrast to the PPP poll showing Lynch up 12, but that poll was taken right before the primary. Lynch leads by 13 points in the RCP Average.

MichiganEPIC/MRA is the latest company to find venture capitalist Rick Snyder leading Democrat Virg Bernero by more than 20 points, a pretty shocking margin in this blue-leaning state. Snyder leads by 23.7 points in the RCP Average.

Illinois – Illinois Pollster We Ask America finds a race for Governor that is similar to what most other pollsters have found, with Governor Pat Quinn (D) trailing Republican Bill Brady by about 10 points, 42 percent to 32 percent. Brady leads by 9.2 points in the RCP Average, and this race is getting away from Quinn.

Georgia – A pair of polls in the Georgia Governor’s race show a tight race in the wake of more revelations regarding Nathan Deal’s (R) finances. Mason-Dixon finds that Deal trails 45 percent to 41 percent, while Insider Advantage finds a 42-42 tie. It is worth noting that Deal’s opponent, Roy Barnes, is a former governor who has been consistently stuck at around 42 percent in the polls. Ultimately, I suspect the Republican nature of the state will reassert itself.

Massachusetts – Rasmussen Reports released another poll showing a tight race in Massachusetts. Deval Patrick (D) leads Republican Charlie Baker by only three points, and leads by just 5.3 points in the RCP Average. If Treasurer Tim Cahill gets only low single digits, Patrick may well lose.

Arkansas – It’s a very under-the-radar race, but Governor Mike Beebe leads Republican Jim Keet by a 54 percent to 33 percent margin according to Mason-Dixon. Although close to 50 percent, Beebe crushes Keet in fundraising (Keet only has $9,000 in the bank). Beebe leads by 18 points in the RCP Average.

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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