Senate Watch: July 21
We have a few new polls to add into the mix, including (at long last) some in New Mexico.
Here is the current map:
Now for the details.
As always, “Continuing” refers to the seats in Senate Classes 2 and 3, which are not up for election this cycle.
Here the highlights of the past two weeks, walking from the Pacific to the Atlantic:
- Washington: I was waiting for one more poll with results in line with the trend. Yesterday, I got it. SurveyUSA found that incumbent Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell leads state Senator Michael Baumgartner by 11 points, a number in line with the previous overall trend. While the polls have been somewhat noisy, the noise is significantly smaller than the margin. The Evergreen State is now Everblue, moving to “Likely Democrat”.
- California: It’s not as if this is a seat in question, but there’s a new Field poll, which gives incumbent Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein a 19-point lead over Republican Elizabeth Emken. This is well in line with the previous poll conducted by SurveyUSA.
- New Mexico: At last we have a set of polls from the Land of Enchantment. Public Policy Polling came up with a five-point unadjusted lead (which adjusts to a tie) for Representative Martin Heinrich (D-Albuquerque) over Heather Wilson, the woman he replaced to take the House seat when she left to run for New Mexico’s other Senate seat. On the other hand, WeAskAmerica shows Heinrich with a nine-point lead, with a likely voter model. There aren’t enough data points yet to separate the signal from the noise, but the historical data suggest that Heinrich does have a lead in this race, so I’m leaving New Mexico a “Leans Democrat” state.
- North Dakota: Rasmussen released a poll since last time indicating an unadjusted nine-point lead (eight points after the bias adjustment) for Representative Rick Berg (R) over former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp. With so little polling data, and with seriously conflicting information within the available data (swings of ten points), it’s hard to say anything definitive about North Dakota from the polls. Nonetheless, the voting patterns and demographic data continue to suggest that Berg will have an easier time capturing this open seat. It’s a “Leans Republican” state.
- Wisconsin: A slew of new polls in the Badger State again. OK, it’s really two, one from Marquette University, and one from Public Policy Polling, but they covered the Republican primary as well as hypothetical matchups for the potential Republican candidates against Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison). While former Governor Tommy Thompson has long polled as the favorite among Republicans, banker Eric Hovde has recently become a serious potential challenger, despite never before having run for public office. Against Thompson, Baldwin is behind by four points in the Marquette poll (a Likely Voter pol), and at an unadjusted tie (which adjusts to about a five-point deficit) in the PPP poll. That puts the two roughly in sync, and suggests a somewhat close race, but one that the former Governor would likely win. Against Hovde, however things look quite different. Marquette came away with Baldwin leading by six, while PPP found Hovde ahead by one (adjusting to a lead of six). This puts the two polls in diametrically opposing positions, despite both polls being conducted over the same period. At the very least, this suggests that Hovde is still a bit of a wild card, and that means we need to keep an eye out for this one. In the meantime, Wisconsin remains “Leans Republican”, though not by a wide margin.
- Ohio: A new poll here from Rasmussen indicates that incumbent Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown has a four-point unadjusted lead over Republican Josh Mandel. This translates to a five-point adjusted lead, which is in line with some prior polls. For some reason, the Ohio polls have been noisy, with Brown’s recent lead ranging from about five to about 15 points. This makes the winner of the upcoming election fairly predictable, though the margin is far less so. For this reason, I’m leaving Ohio in the “Leans Democrat” column, though if this trend continues I’ll be moving it to “Likely to Stay Democrat” in another couple of months.
- Florida: We continue to see polls with results all over the place in the Sunshine State. Mason-Dixon and Rasmussen both had new polls. The latest batch has Mason-Dixon showing the incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson with a five-point edge over his almost certain opponent, Representative Connie Mack, IV (R-Fort Meyers), while Rasmussen has Mack up by nine (an adjusted margin of eight). That 14-point difference, coupled with the noisy signal we’ve already been seeing, means I’m keeping it in the “Tossup” column until we get closer to November or show a clear trend.
- Virginia: Last time, I mentioned the WeAskAmerica poll, which showed the Republican, former Governor George Allen, with an astonishing nine-point lead over his opponent, former Governor Tim Kaine. I said at the time that it smacked of being an outlier. With three new polls under our belts, I’m now confident in that assessment. Public Policy Polling came up with an unadjusted two-point Kaine lead (which adjusts to a three-point Allen lead), close to Quinnipiac’s two-point Allen lead (Quinnipiac’s adjustment factor is essentially zero). And yet Rasmussen (!) had an unadjusted one-point lead for Kaine, which adjusts to two points in the Democrat’s favor. With all of these, plus the previous trend of noisy results, it leaves Virginia right where I had it before: a Tossup.
- New Jersey: This is the one mover in this edition. The latest Quinnipiac poll shows incumbent Democratic Senator Bob Menendez holding a comfortable 13-point lead over state Senator Joseph Kyrillos. Given how far we are into the cycle, there’s no reason to believe that the Garden State will bear fruit for the Republican. New Jersey moves to “Likely Democrat”.
With our narrowed July “Tossup” and “Leans” zones, New Jersey and Washington become the latest states to be moved.
Last month’s five tossups remain: Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Montana, and Virginia. The sixth I mentioned before, North Dakota, now looks a little more likely to have a Republican result. It seems credible for Republicans to win at least three of the five tossups, since they have structural advantages in all of them. This is probably why Intrade is giving Republicans about a 52 percent chance of taking the Senate, down a point from two weeks ago, with a 30 percent chance of Democrats holding at least 51 seats (down three from last time), and 20 percent chance of exactly 50 seats (down a point). Note that the three add up to 102 percent, which I believe reflects more about how lightly traded these markets are than anything else.
How credible do you think those market numbers are? Do you agree or disagree with my state analyses above?
- SHOCK POLL: Dem-Skewing Q-pac Poll Shows Romney Catching Obama in VA, Allen Leading Kaine (virginiavirtucon.wordpress.com)
- GOP U.S. Senate primary election one month away (fox6now.com)
- Gloves off during GOP U.S. Senate candidate forum (fox6now.com)
- Baldwin leads all four GOP candidates in fundraising (jsonline.com)
- Thompson, Hovde neck and neck in GOP senate primary in new poll (jsonline.com)
- Senate Watch: July 7 (logarchism.com)
- Latest U.S. Senate poll shows Hovde leading Thompson (fox6now.com)
- Conservative PAC endorses Hovde in GOP Senate primary (jsonline.com)