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« Obama To Kagan: "Just Don't Trip" | Blog Home Page | The Week Ahead: D-Day For Establishment Candidates »

Week In Midterms: The Obama Effect In 2010

This morning we took a look at President Obama's approval ratings on a state-by-state basis, noting how it is these figures, and not necessarily a national average, which will dictate how active the president is in helping candidates this fall, and where he is deployed to campaign with them.

This afternoon, we note a fascinating correlation between the strength of Obama's numbers in Senate battlegrounds and the health of Democratic candidates in those races. First, a look at the races RCP currently classifies as Toss Up this fall.

California: Obama +16.8; Boxer +0.8 to +6.5
Colorado: Obama -6.5; Bennet -2.0 to +0.7
Florida: Obama -1.7; Meek -16.0
Missouri: Obama -11.5; Carnahan -6.0
Ohio: Obama -7.8; Fisher +0.7
Pennsylvania: Obama -3.0; Specter -7.3

In the five states where Obama's job rating is net-negative, the Democratic candidate trails in four of them. In California, meanwhile, Barbara Boxer leads all potential Republican candidates in the RCP Average.

Now, look at other non-toss up states where Democratic incumbents face tough races.

Arkansas: Obama -28; Lincoln -7.7 to -19.6
Nevada: Obama - 5.0; Reid -10.0 to 10.5
New York: Obama +15.7; Gillibrand +22
Washington: Obama +8.0; Murray +3 to +14.3
Wisconsin: Obama -2.0; Feingold +12.5 to +15.3

And now, some other open seat races where Democrats had hoped to be competitive.

Connecticut: Obama +11.5; Blumenthal +22.6 to +30.3
Delaware: Obama +8.0; Coons -20
Illinois: Obama +15.0; Giannoulias -5.0
Indiana: Obama -13.0; Ellsworth -10.7
Kentucky: Obama-20.0; Democrats -4.3 to -9.3
New Hampshire: Obama +1.0; Hodes -11.3 to +2.6
North Dakota: Obama -10.0; No Democrat competitive

Each state has its own unique circumstances, of course. But there's no ignoring the correlation in most states between the president's performance and that of the Democratic Senate candidate.

SENATE

NEW POLLS: Arkansas, California, Kentucky, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania

ARKANSAS: Sen. Blanche Lincoln appears to be in better shape than her compadre in Pennsylvania, Sen. Arlen Specter, with just four days left before each face the voters in their respective Democratic primaries. The last two polls out in the state found her leading Lt. Gov. Bill Halter by 9 and 12 points. Many expect this race to head for a runoff, which will be needed if neither wins 50% of the vote.

FLORIDA: On Wednesday -- the same day the RNC announced the party was holding its 2012 convention in Tampa -- Florida Gov. Charlie Crist officially left the Republican Party by changing his party registration to unaffiliated. It was another step in his now-independent bid for Senate.

KENTUCKY: All five polls out this month find Rand Paul up double-digits against the establishment-backed Trey Grayson in the Republican primary. This will be a blow to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who recently went public with his endorsement of Grayson. It hasn't been much of a help yet. The Democratic race between Jack Conway and Daniel Mongiardo looks like it will be a closer finish.

NORTH CAROLINA: The campaigns for Elaine Marshall and Cal Cunnningham distributed competing memos this week, spelling out the reasons why each has the best chance of winning both the June 22 runoff and the general election against Sen. Richard Burr.

PENNSYLYVANIA: Specter needs big turnout in Philly to help him stave off a stiff challenge from Rep. Joe Sestak in Tuesday's primary. He's had Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins do a robocall for him, and tonight Gov. Ed Rendell is hyping up volunteers before they hit the streets this weekend in a major GOTV effort. Who would Republican Pat Toomey prefer to face in the general election? It's worth mentioning that his campaign has come out on the attack against Sestak in the last week.

THE REST: CA: Carly Fiorina just dropped another $1.1 million of her own money into the campaign, boosting her total contribution to $3.6 million. NV: Support for tea party-backed Sharron Angle jumped 20 points in the last month, placing her just 5-points behind frontrunner Sue Lowden. IN: GOP nominee Dan Coats told RCP this week he decided to run because he was upset that Sen. Evan Bayh (D) didn't vote against the Obama agenda enough, and "I thought that he deserved a real race." Bayh later decided to retire. WA: This has become the nastiest race that isn't yet a race, as Dino Rossi (R) has still not announced whether he's challenging Sen. Patty Murray (D).

GOVERNOR

NEW POLLS:
Alaska; California; Colorado; Maryland; Massachusetts; Nevada; New York.

CALIFORNIA: Suddenly, the GOP primary is a dead heat. Closing in, Steve Poizner contributes another $2.5 million of his own money. And now, illegal immigration has become a flashpoint as the two now run to the right. Former Gov. Pete Wilson (R), with his own history on illegal immigration, does a radio ad for Meg Whitman.

IOWA: Vice President Joe Biden will help Gov. Chet Culver (D) kick off his campaign with an event next week. An independent group has launched attacks on former Gov. Terry Branstad.

MASSACHUSETTS: The RGA's media campaign against Tim Cahill (I) has sent his numbers plummeting, but also boosted Gov. Deval Patrick's (D). And some RNC members questioned the Barbour-led committee's decision to be spending resources in the Bay State. They later backpedaled and voiced support for the effort. But the state GOP chair also said she's "not a fan."

NEW YORK: Andrew Cuomo (D) will finally make his bid official at the state Democratic convention in two weeks. Rick Lazio once "gushed" about Cuomo, his would-be opponent in November. Lazio is trying to pre-empt a change in rules that would let Democrat-turned-Republican Steve Levy get a spot on the primary ballot with a lower threshold of support at the state Republican convention.

SOUTH CAROLINA: GOP hopeful Nikki Haley got an interesting pair of endorsements this week. First, she campaigned with Jenny Sanford, ex-wife of Gov. Mark Sanford. And last night, Sarah Palin announced her endorsement and an upcoming visit.

THE REST: Diane Denish (D) goes on the air in New Mexico, as did GOP hopeful Allen Weh. John Kasich's Lehman Brothers ties still haunt him in Ohio. Senate candidate Mark Kirk (R) skipped it, but gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady (R) attended Sarah Palin's speech in Chicago. The GOP candidates in Maine remain a mystery to voters.

HANDICAPPER WATCH
Cook Political Report:
* TX-17 from Lean D to Toss Up
* PA-12 from Lean R to Toss Up
* HI-01 from Toss Up To Lean R

Rothenberg Political Report:
* No changes

RCP PROJECTIONS
Senate: GOP +6
Governor: GOP +5
House Map

--Mike Memoli and Kyle Trygstad