GOP Candidates Pull Ahead in WV, WI

GOP Candidates Pull Ahead in WV, WI

By Sean Trende - September 21, 2010

Welcome to an extra-special afternoon edition of "What The Latest Polls Told Us"! This one will focus on the numerous Senate polls that have been released today and yesterday; tomorrow morning we'll talk gubernatorial and House polls


West Virginia -- For those of you on the West Coast hitting the 2 p.m. food coma and about to hit the Five Hour Energy (but what happens when someone invents Six Hour Energy?) here's your alternative. PPP (D) shows West Virginia Governor Jim Manchin trailing Republican John Raese 46 percent to 43 percent. PPP finds the Governor with a 59 percent approval rating, with 32 percent disapproving. The President fares much worse, with a 30/64 split in approval. Twenty-seven percent support the Democrats'  health care law. In potentially ominous news for downballot races, 54 percent would prefer Republicans control Congress, while 37 percent prefer the Democrats.

It's worth noting that PPP has Democrats comprising 51 percent of the electorate to Republicans' 37 percent; in 2008 the numbers were 48 percent and 34 percent; in 2004 the numbers were 50 percent and 32 percent.  In other words, the internals are pretty believable.

Rasmussen Reports also tested the race, and found Manchin leading Raese 50 percent to 43 percent. The sample is overall more favorable toward the Democrats than the PPP sample, with 34 percent approving of the job that President Obama is doing, and 69 percent approving of the job Governor Manchin is doing. Sixty-four percent favor repealing the health care bill, 66 percent favor an Arizona-style immigration law and 70 percent favor tax cuts to increases in government spending as a way to stimulate the economy.

The basic dynamic of this race is simple. Voters like Manchin, but they want a brake on the Obama administration. The problem for Manchin, and why these two forces might not just cancel each other out, is that voters have a chance at both. If Raese wins they get a brake on President Obama and they get to keep Manchin in the Governor's mansion. Anyone who watched the 1996 Weld/Kerry race should feel like they've seen this movie before. Manchin leads by two points in the RCP Average.

California -- PPP also polled the California Senate race and found Democraitc Senator Barbara Boxer up eight points, 50 percent to 42 percent. The sample is substantially more Democratic than even the 2008 electorate. This doesn't mean it is wrong; it just looks like an outlier for now.

Fox News, using POR-Rasmussen, finds Boxer up by just a point on Carly Fiorina, 47 percent to 46 percent. Boxer leads by 2.8 points in the RCP Average. Only 41 percent of voters surveyed in the Fox poll approve of the job Boxer is doing, while 49 percent disapprove, and a slight plurality favor repealing the recently-enacted health care law. This is a tough playing field for Democrats in a state that gave Obama 61 percent of the vote in 2008.

Wisconsin -- A Daily Kos/PPP poll finds businessman Ron Johnson leading three-term Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold 52 percent to 41 percent. This is the second poll in a row showing the senator's challenger above 50 percent, which is obviously terrible news if you're a Feingold fan. The President is at 41 percent in the Badger State, while Democratic Governor Doyle is at 29 percent. This spells trouble for Democrats up and down the ticket. Incidentally, Senator Herb Kohl is up for re-election in 2012, and sports a 42 percent to 47 percent approve/disapprove. Johnson leads by 5.4 points in the RCP Average, and has to be considered the favorite at this point.

Delaware -- Christine O'Donnell has over a million dollars in the bank, but according to Fox News she is having difficulty eating into the 62 percent of Delawareans who voted for Barack Obama.  She trails Chris Coons 39 percent to 54 percent.

Nevada -- Before there was Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle served as the Democrats' foil for Tea Party excess. But unlike O'Donnell, Angle seems to be on a path toward at least a competitive race, if not outright victory. The latest Fox News poll shows her leading Harry Reid by a point, 46 percent to 45 percent. And there you have the difference between Nevada and Delaware. Reid leads by a half point in the RCP Average, but he's stuck at 45 percent, once again.

Pennsylvania -- And before there was Sharron Angle, there was Pat Toomey. But unlike Angle, Toomey is starting to put away his race against Congressman Joe Sestak. According to Fox, he leads by eight points, 48 percent to 40 percent -- his exact lead in the RCP Average. Critical Insights shows a closer 40 to 36 lead for Toomey, but that's an awful lot of undecideds 50 days before an election. I'm guessing the "leaners" are breaking toward Toomey.

Alaska -- In between Angle and O'Donnell,  there was Joe Miller. It looks as though Lisa Murkowski's bid to win in Alaska might succed in splitting the anti-Miller vote. Rasmussen Reports finds Joe Miller with 42 percent of the vote, to Murkowski's 27 percent and Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams' 25 percent.

New York -- Kirsten Gillibrand leads former Congressman Joe DioGuardi 49 percent to 39 percent, according to Rasmussen Reports. Keep an eye on this one, as Gillibrand has been below 50 percent for a while. She leads 48.7 percent to 32 percent in the RCP Average; Barack Obama is above 50 percent in the state, so I suspect she'll pull this one out.


Ohio Senate (FoxNews) Portman (R) 49, Fisher (D) 36

Idaho Senate (Mason-Dixon) Crapo (R) 61, Sullivan (D) 17

Arkansas Senate (Talk Business) Lincoln (D) 29, Boozman (R) 56

Louisiana Senate (Magellen Strategies (R)) Vitter 52 Melancon 34

Utah Senate (Deseret News) Lee (R) 52, Granato 25

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.

Latest On Twitter