Senate polls: Good news for Shaheen and MN stays a toss-up

After the avalanche of presidential polls over the past two days, Friday was marked by the release of a few interesting down-the-ballot surveys which help us assess the state of congressional races now that the season for recruitments and retirements is coming to an end. We first get two surveys from New Hampshire:

  • A new ARG poll shows Democrat Jeanne Shaheen leading incumbent Senator Sununu 47% to 33%, including 63% of independents.
  • Rasmussen confirms the Democrat's lead but pits it at a slightly smaller 49% to 41%. The margin has not changed in the past month.
New Hampshire has truly become the Santorum-Casey of the 2008 cycle, with the well-known Democratic challenger taking a lead from the very first polls released of the race and keeping a very stable advantage no matter the circumstances. ARG's previous poll showed a Sununu lead in December, but that has proven to be an outlier with numerous polls before and now also after showing Shaheen clearly ahead.

This explains why New Hampshire is ranked so high in my latest Senate Rankings. But you might remember that Santorum did have a brief period in the fall of 2006 where it seemed like he might come-back, though he was too far gone to capitalize on that. That suggests that Sununu can certainly hope to tighten things up by November.

The Senate election that seems guaranteed to go down the wire is Minnesota's probable match-up against Senator Coleman and Democrat Al Franken:

  • A new Rasmussen poll shows Coleman edging Franken 48% to 46%. This is actually a slight improvement since February, where Franken was up 49% to 46%.
There were a string of polls in February showing Franken with a small lead against Coleman, but the Rasmussen survey is the second (after a poll released Monday) with Coleman reversing that trend. Given the demographics of Minnesota and Coleman's narrow, disputed and controversial election back in 2002, it is unlikely that Franken can come to pull significantly ahead. But every passing month (and every passing poll) should reassure the DSCC that Franken is the real deal. While many doubted whether he could escape his comedian roots to be a serious contender, Franken is holding the incumbent under 50% and barely ahead.

The third Senate poll I want to cite comes to ask from Georgia, courtesy of Rasmussen. Saxby Chambliss's re-election isn't very contested, and no one is for now expecting it to rise to the level of a competitive race. Rasmussen's poll shows Chambliss leading his closest competitor, Dale Cardwell, 52% to 36%.

Finally, an interesting congressional survey was released today in Alaska. It is an internal poll for the campaign of Democrat Metcalfe released by the polling company Hart:

  • Jack Metcale leads Rep. Young 45% to 37%. The poll also shows Young trailing a generic Democrat 41% to 34%.
Democrats believe they have a great chance of picking up AK-AL, but most consider Ethan Berkowitz their best chance of doing so. There have been numerous polls released in the past few months showing Berkowitz leading Young, and the Metcalfe campaign apparently was feeling itself left out and wanted to jump back in the game proving that their candidate, too, could beat Young. Note that most of the incumbent's troubles come from his ethical issues; if Young goes down in the heated primary he is facing, odds will get much longer for whichever Democrat wins the nomination.

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