Senate diary: Series of polls brings good news to both parties

New Jersey's Senate race is monopolizing the attention right now, but a number of polls released over the past few days give him some pointers about the situation in other states, the first of which comes to us from Rasmussen:

  • In the battle of former Virginia governors, Democrat Mark Warner leads his opponent Jim Gilmore 55% to 39%.
This is actually a decent showing for the Republican given how much Warner is favored in this race, and that a poll in which Gilmore is led 65-21 among unaffiliated voters can be described as good news says a lot about his chances.

Meanwhile, the GOP polling firm McLaughlin & Associates conducted polls in three states for a business coalition (Coalition for a Democratic Workplace). These polls were taken early in March, so it has been a while. But since news is slow yet in congressional races these polls are still useful. Take these numbers with the usual necessary grain of salt since they come from a partisan pollster, and here are the results from three major Senate races:

  • In Minnesota, Senator Norm Coleman leads Democrat Al Franken 46% to 40%.
  • In Maine, Senator Susan Collins leads Democrat Allen 54% to 31%.
  • In Colorado, finally, Democrat Mark Udall is ahead in a Republican-held seat, beating Bob Schaffer 44% to 32%.
The first two polls confirm nearly everything we have seen already. In Minnesota, Norm Coleman is clearly endangered as he comes in under 50% in nearly all polls; the lead he posts in this survey is more worrisome than reassuring for an incumbent this far out from Election Day. But Coleman is clearly far from being in a desperate position and does not share the indignity of his colleague Sununu (from NH) who trails his challenger by double-digits in all polls. This race will remain a toss-up to the end.

In Maine, however, Democrats have still not been able to put the seat in play. This is actually the first poll from Maine since last November but Collins also posted such large leads then. This race was touted as one of the most competitive of the cycle a few months ago but Allen has to find a way to make Collins vulnerable because she is starting off looking strong.

Finally, the Colorado numbers are interesting since it is the first poll I know of that shows a candidate up double-digit. The conventional wisdom had long held that Udall would start off favored in this open seat but poll after poll showed the race to be a toss-up. In 2006, Democrat Ritter suddenly distanced his Republican adversary in the open gubernatorial race, and the DSCC would love for Udall to do the same here, though one poll is obviously far from enough to conclude anything of the sort.

One last note in this down-the-ballot polling diary, albeit one that odes not concern a senatorial race: Rasmussen released a poll from the Washington Governor's race and finds a toss-up, with Democratic incumbent Christine Gregoire leading Republican Dino Rossi 47% to 46%. I am fully expecting this race to remain just as tight all the way to November, though I give the incumbent the slightest of edges in my latest gubernatorial rankings.

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