Topics
Administration
Congress
Democrats
Elections
Ethics
Governor -- Alabama
Governor -- Alaska
Governor -- Arizona
Governor -- California
Governor -- Colorado
Governor -- Connecticut
Governor -- Delaware
Governor -- Florida
Governor -- Georgia
Governor -- Hawaii
Governor -- Illinois
Governor -- Indiana
Governor -- Iowa
Governor -- Kentucky
Governor -- Louisiana
Governor -- Maryland
Governor -- Massachusetts
Governor -- Michigan
Governor -- Minnesota
Governor -- Missouri
Governor -- Montana
Governor -- Nevada
Governor -- New Hampshire
Governor -- New Jersey
Governor -- New Mexico
Governor -- New York
Governor -- North Carolina
Governor -- North Dakota
Governor -- Ohio
Governor -- Oregon
Governor -- Pennsylvania
Governor -- Rhode Island
Governor -- South Carolina
Governor -- Texas
Governor -- Utah
Governor -- Vermont
Governor -- Virginia
Governor -- Washington
Governor -- Wyoming
Governors
Health Care
House
House -- Alabama -- 02
House -- Alabama -- 03
House -- Alabama -- 05
House -- Alaska
House -- Arizona -- 01
House -- Arizona -- 03
House -- Arizona -- 05
House -- Arizona -- 08
House -- Arkansas -- 01
House -- Arkansas -- 02
House -- California -- 04
House -- California -- 12
House -- California -- 26
House -- California -- 32
House -- California -- 50
House -- Colorado -- 02
House -- Colorado -- 04
House -- Connecticut -- 04
House -- Connecticut -- 05
House -- Florida -- 06
House -- Florida -- 08
House -- Florida -- 13
House -- Florida -- 15
House -- Florida -- 16
House -- Florida -- 18
House -- Florida -- 19
House -- Florida -- 21
House -- Florida -- 24
House -- Florida -- 25
House -- Georgia -- 05
House -- Georgia -- 10
House -- Georgia -- 12
House -- Idaho -- 01
House -- Illinois -- 01
House -- Illinois -- 03
House -- Illinois -- 05
House -- Illinois -- 06
House -- Illinois -- 10
House -- Illinois -- 11
House -- Illinois -- 14
House -- Illinois -- 18
House -- Indiana -- 03
House -- Indiana -- 07
House -- Indiana -- 09
House -- Iowa -- 03
House -- Iowa -- 04
House -- Kansas -- 02
House -- Kentucky -- 02
House -- Kentucky -- 03
House -- Louisiana -- 01
House -- Louisiana -- 02
House -- Louisiana -- 04
House -- Louisiana -- 06
House -- Maine -- 01
House -- Maryland -- 01
House -- Maryland -- 04
House -- Massachusetts -- 05
House -- Michigan -- 01
House -- Michigan -- 07
House -- Michigan -- 09
House -- Michigan -- 13
House -- Minnesota -- 01
House -- Minnesota -- 03
House -- Minnesota -- 06
House -- Mississippi -- 01
House -- Mississippi -- 03
House -- Missouri -- 09
House -- Nevada -- 02
House -- Nevada -- 03
House -- New Hampshire -- 01
House -- New Hampshire -- 02
House -- New Jersey -- 03
House -- New Jersey -- 05
House -- New Jersey -- 07
House -- New Mexico -- 01
House -- New Mexico -- 02
House -- New York -- 13
House -- New York -- 15
House -- New York -- 20
House -- New York -- 21
House -- New York -- 23
House -- New York -- 24
House -- New York -- 25
House -- New York -- 26
House -- New York -- 29
House -- North Carolina -- 03
House -- North Carolina -- 08
House -- North Carolina -- 10
House -- North Dakota
House -- Ohio -- 01
House -- Ohio -- 02
House -- Ohio -- 05
House -- Ohio -- 07
House -- Ohio -- 10
House -- Ohio -- 15
House -- Ohio -- 16
House -- Oklahoma -- 05
House -- Oregon -- 05
House -- Pennsylvania -- 03
House -- Pennsylvania -- 04
House -- Pennsylvania -- 06
House -- Pennsylvania -- 10
House -- Pennsylvania -- 11
House -- Pennsylvania -- 12
House -- Pennsylvania -- 15
House -- South Carolina -- 01
House -- South Carolina -- 02
House -- South Carolina -- 05
House -- South Dakota
House -- Tennessee -- 07
House -- Tennessee -- 08
House -- Tennessee -- 09
House -- Texas -- 07
House -- Texas -- 10
House -- Texas -- 14
House -- Texas -- 22
House -- Utah -- 03
House -- Virginia -- 01
House -- Virginia -- 05
House -- Virginia -- 09
House -- Virginia -- 11
House -- Washington -- 08
House -- West Virginia -- 01
House -- West Virginia -- 02
House -- Wisconsin -- 07
House -- Wisconsin -- 08
House -- Wyoming
Inauguration 2009
International
Issues
Judiciary
Local Elections
Media
Miscellaneous
Morning Thoughts
Politics Weekly
Polls
Rankings
Republicans
Senate
Senate -- Alaska
Senate -- Arizona
Senate -- Arkansas
Senate -- California
Senate -- Colorado
Senate -- Connecticut
Senate -- Delaware
Senate -- Florida
Senate -- Georgia
Senate -- Idaho
Senate -- Illinois
Senate -- Indiana
Senate -- Iowa
Senate -- Kansas
Senate -- Kentucky
Senate -- Louisiana
Senate -- Maine
Senate -- Massachusetts
Senate -- Minnesota
Senate -- Mississippi
Senate -- Missouri
Senate -- Montana
Senate -- Nebraska
Senate -- Nevada
Senate -- New Hampshire
Senate -- New Jersey
Senate -- New Mexico
Senate -- New York
Senate -- North Carolina
Senate -- North Dakota
Senate -- Ohio
Senate -- Oklahoma
Senate -- Oregon
Senate -- Pennsylvania
Senate -- South Carolina
Senate -- South Dakota
Senate -- Tennessee
Senate -- Texas
Senate -- Utah
Senate -- Virginia
Senate -- Wisconsin
Senate -- Wyoming
Sports
Supreme Court
WH 08
WH 08 -- Democrats
WH 08 -- Republicans
WH 12
WH 12 -- Republicans
White House

 

« Kaine: Voters Will Reward Dems' "Heavy Lifting" | Blog Home Page | Fresh Faces, Same Places »

Incumbents On Edge Over Volatile Electorate

Look no further than Charlie Crist and Arlen Specter for evidence of a volatile electorate in this midterm election cycle. Both frontrunners enjoyed leads higher than 20 points against lesser known primary rivals before polls turned quickly in their opponent's favor.

In Florida, the change in the polls happened fast: Crist led by 22 points in October, 10 points in November, was tied with Rubio in December, and Rubio led by 12 points by January. Specter's standing in the polls dropped even more rapidly, leading by 20 points in early April, 8 points in late April, and trailed by as much as 9 points in the days leading up to the May 18 primary.

The result: Crist, the governor of Florida, left the Republican Party last month to run for Senate as an independent; and Specter, a 30-year incumbent senator running for re-election as a Democrat for the first time, lost by 8 points Tuesday to a second-term congressman.

The 2010 political landscape -- and with it, the potential for poll numbers to move quickly in any direction -- has incumbents justifiably feeling uneasy about their position.

"I don't know that it's more volatile than usual," said Brad Coker, managing director of the Mason-Dixon polling firm. "I just think it's a little more accentuated this year because we're seeing it in races with incumbents."

This includes John McCain, the GOP's most recent presidential nominee, who's facing a primary challenge from J.D. Hayworth, a former Republican congressman who was defeated for re-election four years ago.

Despite leading Hayworth by 12 points in two polls released this month, the McCain campaign is undergoing a staff shake-up with three months left before the Aug. 24 primary. By replacing his campaign manager and deputy manager, the message sent was that his standing is not as strong as it needs to be.

"McCain's not alone. Until he's up running over 50 percent on a consistent basis, he's got to worry," said Coker. "I don't think there's an incumbent anywhere that has a serious challenger and isn't being careful."

Specter's situation turned following the airing of a single campaign ad by Rep. Joe Sestak, whose TV spot featured Specter being endorsed by George W. Bush in 2004 -- a reminder to Democratic primary voters about Specter's 29 years of Senate service as a Republican.

"Sestak campaigned for nine months under the radar. It wasn't until about a month out that he brilliantly used the $4 million," said Terry Madonna, director of the Franklin & Marshall College Poll in Pennsylvania.

"His message didn't change," Madonna added, as Sestak continued to focus on Specter's party change. "But as the anti-Washington sentiment grew, he ratcheted up that criticism."

Martha Coakley held huge leads heading into the final few weeks of the Massachusetts special Senate election campaign in January -- until, that is, Republican Scott Brown and his famous pick-up truck took control of the race to replace the late Ted Kennedy.

Who else could find themselves quickly down in the polls in this uneven environment? Both parties are waiting to see whether Republican Dino Rossi will challenge Washington Sen. Patty Murray in November, and recent polls on the potential race are all over the map.

Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold's stance is unclear after former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson opted not to take him on. Still, the most recent poll shows Feingold leads two largely unknown Republicans by relatively small margins.

And perhaps no one knows the volatility of the year better than Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who's running in the place of retiring Sen. Chris Dodd. Blumenthal's advantage had already been trending downward when he was accused Tuesday morning on the front page of the New York Times for misleading people on his military record. A poll released Wednesday found his once 20-point lead over Republican Linda McMahon down to 3 points.

"If I'm an incumbent running for reelection and I'm polling right now under 50 percent," said Coker, "I'm sweating it."