Pollapalooza, August 11 Edition

There are lots of interesting new polls out, but we’ll open with something interesting from Dick Morris

My observations from the campaign trail are that this year’s elections will be a total and complete disaster for the Democratic Party. In fact, it will amount to the obliteration of an entire generation of Democratic officeholders. It will become very rare to find a youngish baby boomer white Democrat in elective office in the United States. I believe that almost half of the white Democratic congressmen who are seeking reelection will lose!

A wipeout of this magnitude cannot be explained, alone, by Obama’s ratings or his policies. He has fallen sharply since he took office, but even ratings in the 40s do not explain this type of result. It is increasingly obvious that Congress has earned much of this disaster by itself, quite unrelated to Obama. The vision of the deal-making that accompanied healthcare was too disgusting for the average American to stomach. And now the failure of the Congress to expel Reps. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) underscores its inability to police itself.

Is a wipeout of the Democrats in the offing? Maybe so. A few polls out indicate a storm is indeed coming…

Rasmussen says 57 percent of the country believes the Democrats’ agenda in Congress is extreme. But here’s what’s interesting – Rasmussen has begun indexing respondents according to whether they fall among the Mainstream voters or the Political class. He defines the Political Class thusly:

The questions used to calculate the Index are:

— Generally speaking, when it comes to important national issues, whose judgment do you trust more – the American people or America’s political leaders?

— Some people believe that the federal government has become a special interest group that looks out primarily for its own interests. Has the federal government become a special interest group?

— Do government and big business often work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors?

To create a scale, each response earns a plus 1 for the populist answer, a minus 1 for the political class answer, and a 0 for not sure.

Those who score 2 or higher are considered a populist or part of the Mainstream. Those who score -2 or lower are considered to be aligned with the Political Class. Those who score +1 or -1 are considered leaners in one direction or the other.

According to Rasmussen, 91 percent of the Political Class thinks the Democrats’ policies are ordinary. But the Mainstream respondents, to the tune of 70 percent, say the Democrats are extreme.

The Republicans, meanwhile, have 45 percent of all respondents calling their policies mainstream, with 40 percent saying they’re extreme. Some 53 percent of Mainstream respondents think the GOP’s agenda is within the realm of reality, while 84 percent of the Political Class say the Republicans are extremists.

Those numbers indicate a massive dichotomy. Rasmussen doesn’t even ask conservative-vs-liberal anymore; he thinks the real divide is between people who identify themselves with government action and people who don’t. And he’s finding two completely different countries.

It’s another way to discuss something we talk about on The Hayride quite often – the intellectual elites vs. the average American. In the American Spectator, Angelo Codevilla wrote a seminal piece dividing the two sides into what he calls the Ruling Class and the Country Class. Elites, Political Class, Ruling Class – it’s all the same thing.

But there are a lot more folks in Codevilla’s Country Class or Rasmussen’s Mainstream than on the other side.

Another example of the divide, Rasmussen found, was in the right track-wrong track numbers. Among the Political Class, 67 percent say the country is doing just fine. But 84 percent of his Mainstream respondents disagree. That’s a 50 percent spread; an absolutely massive number.

Meanwhile, Rasmussen’s Approval Index for President Obama has fallen off the table. With 46 percent of the public expressing strong disapproval of Obama, his Approval Index number has plummeted to minus-22. Obama has never scored worse, though he’s been at -22 before.

He also has the GOP ahead by seven points (46-39) in the generic Congressional ballot. The current Congress has only a 16 percent approval rating. Pew Research, though, has Democrats ahead 45-44 in the generic ballot. Gallup rates the GOP advantage as plus-6, 49-43.

In some actual races, Rasmussen still has a toss-up in Florida. If Kendrick Meek wins the Democrat nomination for the U.S. Senate seat in the Sunshine State, Rasmussen has Marco Rubio winning a three-way race over Meek and Charlie Crist with 38 percent for Rubio, 33 percent for Crist and 21 for Meek. But should billionaire Jeff Greene beat Meek, which most think will happen, Crist actually holds a razor-thin 37-36 lead over Rubio with Greene sitting at 20 percent. Mason-Dixon, however, released a poll on Friday which had Meek ahead of Greene 33-29.

Rasmussen polled the Senate race in Illinois as well, and found a tie between terrible GOP candidate Mark Kirk and even worse Democrat Alexi Giannoulias. Both check in at 40 percent. In Indiana’s Senate race, Republican Dan Coats is blowing out Democrat Brad Ellsworth 50-29. And in Wisconsin’s Senate race, GOP challenger Ron Johnson holds a 47-46 lead over incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold.

Reuters/Ipsos polled both the Governor and Senate races in Ohio and found that the Buckeye state is swinging fairly hard to the GOP. John Kasich now holds a strong 48-39 lead over incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland, while Rob Portman is up 43-36 on Lee Fisher in his effort to hold outgoing George Voinovich’s GOP seat. While that seat would technically be a GOP hold, Portman is considerably more conservative than the notorious Voinovich; as such, should that race hold it would be a definite example of the Senate moving to the Right.

Public Policy Polling has new results in Colorado and Delaware. The Democrat firm’s poll in Delaware’s Senate race, commissioned by far-left blogger Daily Kos, has Mike Castle bombing Chris Coons by a 48-35 margin in their race to take over the seat formerly held by Joe Biden. In Colorado, the numbers are better, PPP says, for the Democrats. Denver mayor John Hickenlooper holds a 50-38 lead over GOP businessman Dan Maes in a two-way race, but that lead balloons to 25 points (48-23-22) in a three-way race in Tom Tancredo makes it to Election Day as a third-party candidate. Maes’ only chance of winning is to somehow drive Tancredo out of the race and get his support. In the Colorado Senate race, though, the GOP has a much better chance of winning; Ken Buck, who knocked off Jane Norton in the Republican primary, is down just 43-46 to incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet, who survived a primary challenge from Bill Clinton-backed Andrew Romanoff.

RealClearPolitics.com assesses the Senate races this way:

Safe Republican (1 GOP pickup):

  • North Dakota, where Gov. John Hoeven is expected to cruise to an easy win.

Likely Republican (2 GOP pickups, 2 GOP holds):

  • Arkansas, where John Boozman is crushing incumbent Democrat Blanche Lincoln 57.8-32.8 in the latest RCP average;
  • Indiana, where Coats is comfortably ahead of Ellsworth;
  • Iowa, where incumbent Chuck Grassley is 20 points ahead of Democrat challenger and former American Trial Lawyers Association president Roxanne Conlin in the latest poll; and
  • Louisiana, where David Vitter remains in at least an 18-point lead over Charlie Melancon in a Southern Media & Opinion Research poll released yesterday.

Lean Republican (1 GOP pickup, 4 GOP holds):

  • Delaware, where Castle seems comfortably ahead of Coons. Were this not a reliably left-wing state it would seem like this race should be Likely Republican;
  • Kentucky, where a CN2/Braun Research poll had Rand Paul leading Jack Conway 50-40 last week. Scurrillous charges against Paul made by GQ Magazine and POLITICO’s Ben Smith in which an unnamed woman claimed to have been kidnapped by Paul and another member of the Baylor University swim team in 1983 and forced to do bong hits – the “victim” admitted the affair was actually more of a college stunt than an act of savagery – have been balanced by revelations that the Conway camp is sending plants to Paul rallies with racist signs in an effort to make his supporters look extreme. Those two stories appear to be a wash;
  • Missouri, where polling data shows former congressman Roy Blunt up 5-6 points in consistent fashion over Robin Carnahan;
  • New Hampshire, where a Rasmussen poll last week showed Kelly Ayotte ahead 51-38 on Democrat Paul Hodes; and
  • North Carolina, where GOP incumbent Richard Burr was up 49-40 in a Rasmussen poll last week.

Toss-Ups (6 Dem seats, 2 GOP seats):

  • Colorado, where Bennet’s 3-point lead over Buck is questionable. There were 339,000 ballots cast in the Democrat primary Bennet won – with support from Obama and Romanoff getting support from Clinton – and 407,000 ballots cast in the Republican primary. That’s an indication Buck has a lot more engagable support than does Bennet;
  • Florida, where the seat will either be a Republican hold (Rubio) or Independent (Crist) but certainly not Democrat, unless Crist completely switches to the Democrat side after winning (most think that’s unlikely since third-party candidates almost always fade);
  • Illinois, where Giannoulias’ problems surrounding his mobbed-up, failed family bank and Blago connections would spell death in any other state and against any other candidate – and still might (which would give the GOP not just Biden’s old Senate seat but Obama’s as well);
  • Nevada, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid simply can’t pull away from neophyte challenger Sharron Angle despite having spent some $11 million in the race already;
  • Ohio, though Portman appears to be opening up a lead on Fisher and this race probably should go in the Leans Republican category as a prospective GOP hold;
  • Pennsylvania, which hasn’t seen a poll lately outside of a Rasmussen survey in late July which had Republican Pat Toomey six points ahead of Democrat Joe Sestak in Toomey’s effort to flip Arlen Specter’s old seat back to the GOP;
  • Washington, where incumbent Democrat Patty Murray is ever-so-slightly ahead of Dino Rossi in most polls; and
  • Wisconsin, where Johnson leads incumbent Democrat Feingold by a point in the latest poll.

Lean Democrat (1 Dem hold)

  • California, where Barbara Boxer’s lead over Republican challenger Carly Fiorina is tiny but consistent. Fiorina does seem to be close enough, though, that a decided advantage in ground game could put her ahead on Election Day – she performed amazingly well in the primary and blew away expectations based on polls at the time.

Likely Democrat (5 Dem holds)

  • Connecticut, where newly-minted GOP nominee Linda McMahon trails Democrat attorney general/Stolen Valor culprit/general attention whore Richard Blumenthal by 10 points in a 10-day old Quinnipiac poll. McMahon has, however, picked up 13 points in Blumenthal since a Rasmussen poll on June 1 had her  behind by 23;
  • New York, where both Kristen Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer don’t appear to be in any trouble against a gaggle of unknown GOP challengers;
  • Oregon, where Democrat incumbent Ron Wyden is 16-18 points ahead of GOP challenger Jim Huffman; and
  • West Virginia, where Gov. Joe Manchin is a prohibitive favorite over GOP businessman John Raese in a special election to succeed dead ex-Kleagle Robert Byrd.

To get to 51 Senate seats, the GOP would have to avoid stumbling in any of the races which currently lean Republican, which looks likely, and sweep the toss-up races. The California race is also a possibility to either get to 52 seats or to replace a wayward toss-up like Washington or Nevada.

It’s doable.

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