Cleaning out Friday poll: Wisconsin's tight primary and competitive Senate races

A few polls were released over the past 48 hours that I have not gotten to yet. With most everyone obsessed about Clinton's last stand in Ohio and Texas, it's easy to forget that she could start reversing momentum as easly as this Tuesday in the Wisconsin primary. The New York Senator will be traveling to Wisconsin tomororw and stay there until the election, in what many people are already describing as too little, too late. And indeed, while it is laudable of Clinton to take the Texas challenge seriously -- and, as I explained this morning, it is a challenge for everyone -- it is unclear why she waited so long before investing herself in Wisconsin when a win here could be an instantaneous storyline turner.

Research 2000's new poll confirms that the Wisconsin primary is very close, with Obama holding a slight edge:

  • Obama leads Clinton 47% to 42%. In three other polls released in the past few days, Obama has been up by a similar margin (with an average of about 4%), with two polls showing a large Clinton and a large Obama lead.
One of Clinton's main strategies has been to hammer Obama on his refusal to hold a debate prior to the Wisconsin primary. Obama is retorting that 18 debates have already been held and that Clinton is just grasping at straws, though it is true that only one debate has occured so far in February, and that was the only one with Obama and Clinton speaking directly to each other; it is also true that it is absurd to demand that teh candidates debate in every state that is holding a contest. (The next debate, by the way, is scheduled for February 21st, next Thursday.)

  • Senate polls: Shaheen leads in NH, tie in Colorado
Rasmussen released two polls from two very important Senate contests yesterday:

  • In New Hampshire, Democrat Shaheen is ahead of of incumbent Sununu, 49% to 41%. The last Rasmussen poll showed Shaheen ahead 48% to 43%.
  • In Colorado, GOP Bob Shaffer leads Dem Mark Udall 44% to 43%, the same margin as three months ago.
These races are ranked third and fourth respectively in my latest Senate rankings. New Hampshire looks particularly promising for Democrats, as Shaheen is regularly distancing Sununu in polls. In fact, most surveys -- including one released earlier this week -- show her ahead by double-digits, making Sununu the Santorum of this year's race: He has been behind since the very first opinion polls, a rare feat for an incumbent, and is showing little sign of recovering.

Colorado is shaping to be a more interesting race. The early conventional wisdom was that Udall -- a popular congressman in a state that has been increasingly trending blue in recent cycles -- would prevail in the open seat, picking up a seat for Democrats, but all polls have shown a toss-up between him and Shaffer, who at first seemed to be a second-tier candidate for Republicans. Democrats have been very successful in open seats in Colorado in 2004 (a Senate seat and a House seat) and 2006 (a Governor's seat and a House seat) and they are hoping to duplicate that here. In races this close, the dynamics of the presidential race could very well end up moving things slightly one way or another.

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  • I can really understand the Clinton campaign's hesitancy about investing much in Wisconsin. As everyone visiting this site should know, right now, post-Super Tuesday, the contest is as much if not more about delegates than about momentum.

    And while, if Clinton can pull out the Wisconsin primary as she did New Mexico (hopefully in a shorter timeframe) or Obama did Missouri, it will help her momentum some and (much more importantly) break Obama's winning streak, winning by a point or two, which at this point is the BEST-CASE scenario for her, basically means an even split in delegates and no change in Obama's lead. While a five to ten point win for Obama might increase his lead by a few delegates, you can see why the Clinton campaign hesitated to put money and candidate time in Wisconsin that could be used in Texas and Ohio where the potential still exists for big wins that could cut into Obama's lead.

    Ultimately, the Clinton camp decided that given the negative climate and the impact of the Potomac primary debacle, she had no choice but to go full-bore in Wisconsin the last few days. But it was hardly a no-brainer.

    By OpenID sjberke, At 16 February, 2008 07:55  

  • I think the Democrats will win the Colorado Senate seat thanks in part to their national convention being held there. This should give Udall a massive popularity boost. Or at least massive when compared to the current margin between the two.

    By Anonymous C.S.Strowbridge, At 16 February, 2008 11:58  

  • The Colorado race is emblematic of the top-of-ticket effect Sen. Obama's nomination could have, compared to Sen. Clinton's. Assuming the Colorado caucus results are indicative of each candidate's energizing effect on the Colorado electorate, a boost from Sen. Obama could be enough to put Rep. Udall over the top.

    I, for one, would be happy just to have another guy named "Udall" back on the national political scene. Mo Udall was the guy who said, "when the Democratic Party forms a firing squad, we do it in a circle." It was true then, and it's truer now.

    By Blogger ty, At 17 February, 2008 16:32  

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