Saturday polls: (Tom) Udall coasts, and an opening in Kasnsas?

Rasmussen continues releasing polls at an accelerated rhythm, providing a useful picture of what the electoral map looks like 6 months from the election -- both at the presidential and senatorial level. Yesterday, they showed Senator Stevens struggling in Alaska, while Obama was surprisingly competitive there, being trounced in Kansas and Arkansas but putting Washington away. Today, new polls point to interesting results.

First, a general election poll from New Mexico suggests Democrats have an early edge in a state that narrowly went for Bush in 2004:

  • Obama leads John McCain 50% to 41%, while Clinton leads 47% to 41%. This is a significant improvement for both Democrats over last month's numbers.
  • Obama is also enjoying a superior favorable rating, 58% including 33% very favorable versus 50% including 14% very favorable for McCain.
While New Mexico represents only 5 electoral votes, both parties want to lay a claim on the Southwest, where 3 states (Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico) will be in play. If Obama manages to get strong support among Hispanics -- more than Kerry did in 04 and certainly more than he did in the primaries -- he could pick up a lot of electoral votes in the region and prepare Democratic gains in these fast-growing states in the year to come.

It's also worth taking a quick look at the Gallup and Rasmussen tracking polls, since we have not for a while:

  • Gallup's poll shows Obama opening his largest lead in a while against Hillary, 51% to 42%. In the general, however, he is continuing to struggle, led 47% to 44% against McCain while Clinton is ahead 47% to 45%.
  • Rasmussen finds McCain edging out Obama 45% to 44%. Despite professing that they will stop polling Clinton for 10 days now, they are still doing so: Obama is ahead only 46% to 44%. Clinton and McCain are tied at 44%.
Finally, Rasmussen released two important Senate polls, one confirming what we already knew in New Mexico and the second showing a slightly surprising result in Kansas, where Senator Roberts might not be as safe as we might have thought:

  • In New Mexico, this week's second poll confirms that Tom Udall is coasting to picking-up this open seat. Against Heather Wilson, Udall leads 57% to 36%. Against Steve Pearce, he leads 53% to 37%. The margins were actually even bigger in SUSA's poll.
Expect the race to tighten once the GOP choose its nominee and once the nastiness of the Republican primary stops. But there is no question that Udall is starting with an impressive lead and it will be hard for Republicans to even find the resources to make this truly competitive. As for Kansas:

  • Senator Roberts is leading his Democratic opponent, former congressman Jim Slattery 52% to 40%.
While Roberts does not appear particularly threatened for now (up double-digits, above 50% and enjoying a 60% favorability rating, important measures of an incumbent's support), there is no doubt that these numbers have to be disappointing to the NRSC. This is not a race that is on anyone's radar, ranked 22nd in my latest Senate rankings. Democrats were happy that Slattery jumped in the race, as they at least got a decent candidate, so for Roberts to come in at 52% is not very reassuring. More than point at Roberts' vulnerability, this polls shows how toxic the environment is for Republicans. Despite a 60% favorability rating, superior to Slattery's, the incumbent trails among unaffiliated voters by 3 percent, and this is in Kansas.

Even when they like their particular incumbent, it looks like independents are massively looking to bolt from the Republican Party, and it is revealing of how much appeal McCain has that he is able to hold on to them. This is why Democrats have been so successful in the three special elections this spring and why even Republicans like Roberts should be worried. Chuck Schumer has actually talked about this race before, and you can be sure that he will jump in and pour money to test Roberts' vulnerability if there is any sign that he can be lowered under 50%. This is a presidential year and Roberts' remains popular, so don't hold your breath but still telling of the playing field being clearly tilted towards Democrats.

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  • 12 points is too big a lead to consider this a top tier race, however, it is closer than I, and many others were expecting. If Slattery can close the gap to high single-digits, I would expect the Democrats to start pouring cash into this race.

    By Anonymous C.S.Strowbridge, At 18 May, 2008 14:14  

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