Senate Watch: August 4
There has been an uptick in the amount of polling over the past two weeks. Arizona remains a state to watch, but we finally get something out of Indiana.
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:
- Nevada: A couple new polls in the past two weeks, one from Rasmussen, and one from Republican-funded AFP/Magellan, leave things in a rather confusing state. Rasmussen came away with an unadjusted nine-point lead (corresponding to an adjusted eight-point lead) for the Republican incumbent Senator, Dean Heller, over his challenger, Representative Shelley Berkley (D-Las Vegas), while AFP/Magellan found Heller with a mere three-point lead. It’s enough to keep the Silver State in “Leans Republican” territory, but I suspect Rasmussen’s number is an outlier, given the historical numbers.
- Arizona: This is becoming about as opaque a state as one can have. Public Policy Polling just released a poll showing Representative Jeff Flake (R-Mesa) tied with former Surgeon General Richard Carmona. Based on house bias, that should equate to a five-point lead for Flake. This at least suggests that Rasmussen’s poll from last month, giving Flake a 16-point edge, was an outlier; earlier polls were more in line with the adjusted PPP number. But we’re lacking updated data on the Republican primary election, which takes place at the end of this month. That race has been an especially nasty battle between Flake and real estate tycoon Wil Cardon. Carmona has generally been polling better against Cardon than against Flake, so if Cardon gets the nomination it will probably move Arizona from “Leans Republican” to “Tossup”.
- Missouri: It’s been an interesting past couple of weeks in the “Show Me” State. Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill was long expected to face former state treasurer Sarah Steelman in November. But businessman John Brunner has been coming on strong over the past six months, and took the lead in the Post Dispatch/Mason-Dixon poll against Steelman. Not that it’s likely now to matter in November; both Republican candidates poll roughly equally against McCaskill in the Rasmussen and Post Dispatch polls, besting the incumbent by about five points. Missouri still “Leans Republican”.
- Wisconsin: One new set of polls were released by Rasmussen, covering the Republican primary as well as hypothetical matchups for the potential Republican candidates against Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison). While former Governor Tommy Thompson had long polled as the favorite among Republicans, banker Eric Hovde came on strong, much like Wil Cardon in Arizona. Most recently, Public Policy Polling found Hovde ahead of Thompson by three points, and the noisy WeAskAmerica saw the two candidates tied. Against Thompson, Rasmussen gave the nod to Baldwin by seven unadjusted points (that’s eight adjusted) over Thompson, and by three unadjusted (four adjusted) over Hovde. These results are significantly different from other recent polls, so I’m holding off making a change in the prediction, pending confirmation from another poll. Otherwise, it may be that the Rasmussen poll was an outlier. Absent a confirmation, Wisconsin remains “Leans Republican”, though not by a wide margin.
- Michigan: Four new polls, from Baydoun/Foster, EPIC-MRA, Rasmussen, and Public Policy Polling. All confirm Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow with a comfortable lead over former Representative Pete Hoekstra and businessman Clark Durant, her two most likely opponents in November. No change; Michigan is “Likely Democrat”.
- Indiana: At long last, a poll from Indiana. Rasmussen came away with state treasurer Richard Mourdock ahead of Representative Joe Donnelly (D-Granger) by an unadjusted two points. Adjusting for the house bias, that gives Mourdock a mere one-point lead, well inside the margin of error. With no other post-primary data points on which to base a conclusion, Indiana remains a “Tossup”.
- Ohio: A new poll here from CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac indicates that incumbent Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown has a dozen-point unadjusted lead over Republican Josh Mandel. As I said last time, the Ohio polls have been noisy, with Brown’s recent lead ranging from about five to about 15 points. This latest poll is within that broad range. We can still pretty safely predict the winner of the upcoming election even though the margin itself is so much in question. I’m leaving Ohio in the “Leans Democrat” column, though I’m getting closer to moving it to “Likely to Stay Democrat”.
- Florida: Three new polls with results all over the place in the Sunshine State. SurveyUSA concluded that Representative Connie Mack, IV (R-Fort Meyers) has a six-point lead over incumbent Senator Bill Nelson. On the other end of the spectrum is CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac, who sees a seven-point Nelson lead. And in the middle is Public Policy Polling, whose unadjusted results suggest a two-point Nelson lead, which corresponds to an adjusted two-point lead for Mack. More noise means I’m keeping Florida in the “Tossup” column until we get closer to November or show a clear trend.
- New Jersey: Confirmation of last time. Farleigh Dickenson and Monmouth University both show similar leads to last time. New Jersey is “Likely Democrat”.
- Connecticut: In the one new poll from Public Policy Polling, Representative Chris Murphy (D-Cheshire) has an eight-point unadjusted lead (that’s three adjusted points) over Linda McMahon. Three points was the spread two months ago as well, and every poll thus far has indicated a Murphy lead. Connecticut stays a “Leans Democrat” state, but three points is really tight; I could envision moving it to “Tossup”.
- Massachusetts: So close here, still. One new poll from MassINC, showing Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren with a two-point lead over incumbent Senator Scott Brown. Given the razor-thin margins on both sides of the ledger over the history of polling here, there’s not enough force to move Mass out of “Tossup”.
Lots of words there to say: nobody moved in the past two weeks.
Our five tossups remain: Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Montana, and Virginia. It seems credible for Republicans to win at least three of the five, since they have structural advantages in all of them. And because nothing moved above, the Intrade markets are also stagnant: they still give Republicans about a 52 percent chance of taking the Senate, with a 30 percent chance of Democrats holding at least 51 seats, and 20 percent chance of exactly 50 seats.
How credible do you think those market numbers are? Do you agree or disagree with my state analyses above?
- Senate Watch: July 21 (logarchism.com)
- Bizarre AZ senate poll omits major candidate Wil Cardon (seeingredaz.wordpress.com)
- Public Policy poll shows Hovde leading all GOP Senate candidates (fox6now.com)
- Sen. McCaskill trails GOP challengers badly in Missouri (americanthinker.com)
- Rasmussen poll: Bill Nelson 47%, Connie Mack 36% (tampabay.com)