Poll: Democrats poised to snatch away GOP-held seats in Senate
Republican-held seats in the US Senate are very much in play for Democratic challengers, according to a new poll which shows GOP candidates losing their races -- sometimes by large margins -- to Democrats in four out of seven key battleground states.
The new poll, commissioned by Roll Call and conducted by automated polling firm SurveyUSA, found presumptive Democratic nominees thumping Republican rivals by particularly large margins in Virginia and New Hampshire.
"In the likely general election race in Virginia between former Gov. Mark Warner (D) and his predecessor, ex-Gov. Jim Gilmore (R), Warner was preferred by 57 percent of those surveyed compared with 35 percent for Gilmore," writes Roll Call's Josh Kurtz. A Washington Post poll last month found Warner with a 30 point advantage over Gilmore in the race for the state's open seat, to be vacated by the retiring Sen. John Warner (R).
Things also look bleak for the GOP in New Hampshire, as the state's former governor, Jeanne Shaheen, maintains an 11 point lead over Sen. John Sununu (R), who previously defeated her for the seat in 2002. An October poll from the University of New Hampshire showed Shaheen with a 16 point lead, a number which was virtually unchanged from a similar survey in July.
Elsewhere around the country, Democrats are holding on to smaller but still significant leads.
"In Colorado, where Sen. Wayne Allard (R) is retiring, Rep. Mark Udall (D) held a 48 percent to 41 percent lead over former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R) in the race to replace him," reports Roll Call. "Significantly, in a state that leans Republican at the presidential level despite all the gains that Democrats have made there in the past two election cycles, Udall held a 5-3 edge among political independents." Internal polling conducted by the Shaffer campaign in September gave a 5 point edge to Udall.
In New Mexico, the Democratic mayor of Albuquerque, Martin Chavez, is clinging to "narrow leads" over two GOP House members for the nomination. The state's governor, Bill Richardson "remains an overwhelming favorite in the Senate race," according to the paper, but "Richardson continues to insist that he has no interest running for the post and is concentrating on his White House bid."
Meanwhile, two Democratic challengers to Minnesota's Sen. Norm Coleman -- one of which is comedian Al Franken -- are both polling within the margin of error of Sen. Coleman. Franken's competition for the Democratic nomination is lawyer Mike Ciresi.
"The news was better for Republican incumbents in Oregon and Maine," says Roll Call. "In Oregon, Sen. Gordon Smith (R) led the favorite of the Democratic establishment, state Speaker Jeff Merkley (D), 48 percent to 39 percent...In Maine, Sen. Susan Collins (R) held a commanding lead over Rep. Tom Allen (D), 55 percent to 38 percent."
"The war in Iraq continues to be the issue that voters most want Congress to address in the months ahead, though immigration and health care also scored highly in the Roll Call polls," the paper found. "Iraq and health care as campaign issues seem to benefit the Democrats, at least in the seven states surveyed. Immigration was a net plus for Republicans."
Read the full article in Roll Call (subscription required).