Pollapalooza, October 12 Edition

We know – or at least we assume – that the Republicans are going to recapture the House of Representatives. We’re pretty sure they’re going to take over a sizable majority of governorships and statehouses around the country.

And now the numbers are beginning to look good for the Senate. Very good.

Let’s start with the fact that as of right now there don’t seem to be any GOP-held Senate seats the Democrats are in position to flip to their side. The races which have been remotely competitive during this cycle don’t hold much promise for any flips to the left…

ALASKA: Regardless of whether Joe Miller wins the seat currently held by Lisa Murkowski or Murkowski manages to overcome her primary defeat at Miller’s hands with a write-in candidacy, the one thing which is fairly obvious is Democrat Scott McAdams has little chance to win. McAdams, an uninspiring small-town mayor (Sitka, Alaska, population 8,600) who vigorously defends earmarks and says Alaska needs to get lots of federal swag because the federal government built the transcontinental railroad (it didn’t, private companies did with the feds providing land and rights-of-way) and Alaska needs to catch up, hasn’t polled better than 25 percent in any poll done to date. That means Alaskans will either choose a Tea Party Republican in Miller or an establishment Republican in Murkowski, and for her to win the voters will have to literally write her in on their ballots. Even though the last poll of the race had Miller ahead 38-36, it’s unlikely those numbers will hold up when her name isn’t actually on the ballot. But the seat won’t flip from R to D unless Murkowski wins and changes parties. Nobody expects that.

FLORIDA: While Alaska’s three-way race appears competitive, Florida’s no longer is. Rasmussen’s latest poll of the Sunshine State senate race done on Oct. 7 showed Marco Rubio hitting the 50 percent mark and in so doing doubling independent Charlie Crist’s 25 percent. Democrat Kendrick Meek was pulling a mere 19 percent, which generated rumors he was getting out of the race and endorsing Crist. Meek denied those rumors and subsequently they were attributed to the Crist campaign. Either way, at 50 percent Rubio could beat Crist in a head-to-head race without Meek – and worse for Democrats, should Meek depart the race it would depress Democrat turnout in the down-the-ballot races for the House. It’s unlikely Democrat gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink, currently in a back-and-forth race with Republican Rick Scott, would like the departure of Meek from the race. President Obama’s disapproval rate in Florida is 56 percent, per a Fox News poll released today.

OHIO: Rob Portman has been pounding Lee Fisher for well over a month, and the RealClearPolitics average on the race has him beating Fisher by 14 points. This race is just one example of how Ohio Democrats are going through a terrible cycle; they’re likely to lose the governorship and four or five House seats as well. A Fox News poll out this morning in Ohio says a hypothetical Republican would beat President Obama today by a 54-36 margin. Obama’s disapproval rate is 58 percent there.

KENTUCKY: Rand Paul, by all accounts, clobbered Jack Conway in last night’s debate. That should help Paul solidify a lead RealClearPolitics averages out to 5.7 points, with Rasmussen’s latest figure being 11 and CN2/Braun Research claiming is 3 points. Conway’s campaign is proving something else which seems to be true in lots of races throughout the country – he’s running lots of ads demonizing his opponent, and they’re not resonating with voters.

NORTH CAROLINA: A couple of months ago, there was polling showing that Democrat Elaine Marshall was in a tight race with Republican incumbent Richard Burr. That’s over. Burr is sitting on an 18-point lead in the RCP average and no major polling organization has even surveyed the race since Sept. 26, a good indication that the smart money says there’s no chance of a competition there.

LOUISIANA: The Washington conventional wisdom said that Republican incumbent David Vitter was vulnerable and the race was put in the competitive category by several election watchers. But when even Democrat challenger Charlie Melancon’s polling has him down by double figures and independent polling says Vitter beats Melancon among women even despite a nine-year-old scandal involving his marital fidelity. Vitter leads by 15.3 points in the RCP average and he’s raising money left and right, while Melancon is lagging badly.

GEORGIA: At one point the Democrats were hoping to make some headway against Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson, but he leads challenger Michael Thurmond by 22 points in the latest RCP average. It’s over.

MISSOURI: This is one of the most competitive races among the current GOP-held seats, but Roy Blount is holding a 9.4 point lead in the RCP average over Democrat Robin Carnahan. And in two polls done last week Blount registered over 50 percent. Last month when Missourians approved an anti-Obamacare measure 71-29 at the ballot box it was an indication of just how bad that “reform” stinks to the general public in what is usually considered a bellweather state.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Republican Kelly Ayotte, who barely made it out of the primary, is in a relatively tight race to replace outgoing GOP senator Judd Gregg. She leads Democrat Paul Hodes by nine points in the RCP average and seven points in a Rasmussen poll released yesterday. This is perhaps the Democrats’ top possibility to flip a Republican seat, but it’s still a likely GOP hold.

Now, the Democrat seats. There are three classes of those – the first tier of sure GOP pickups, the second tier of likely Republican takeovers and the third tier of races where a GOP wave could sweep out a Democrat incumbent.

The first tier…

ARKANSAS: Blanche Lincoln is dead in the water, as John Boozman sits pretty with a 19.7 point lead in the RCP average. No major polling operation has surveyed the race in the month of October.

NORTH DAKOTA: Rasmussen is the only pollster even paying attention to this race, and he hasn’t surveyed it since Sept. 21. That survey had John Hoeven slaughtering Democrat Tracy Potter by a 68-25 count.

INDIANA: Dan Coats has a 17-point lead over Brad Ellsworth in the RCP average. WISH-TV put out a poll on Oct. 1 which had Coats ahead 51-33.

WISCONSIN: Ron Johnson has a 7.8 point lead in the RCP average, and in all the recent polls he’s over 50 percent against incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold. that includes a Rasmussen poll out yesterday which had Johnson ahead 52-45. Barring a collapse he’s headed for a comfortable victory.

PENNSYLVANIA: Pat Toomey leads Joe Sestak by 7.5 in the RCP average, though no new polling has been made public for two weeks. A Fox News poll released today had President Obama underwater by 10 points, 52-42, in approval ratings in Pennsylvania, though, so even though Sestak provoked a controversy in the primary by claiming he was offered a job in the administration not to run it’s likely he’s going against the grain.

If the Republicans pull all five of the first tier races, they’ll be at 46 seats in the Senate. That’s more than enough to sustain a filibuster, though with a House GOP majority they won’t need to do that for the next two years. Control of the Senate rests in the second tier, however…

COLORADO: Republican Ken Buck leads Democrat incumbent Michael Bennet by 4.3 points in the RCP average, but that number includes Democrat firm Public Policy Polling’s latest survey which has Bennet ahead by one point. PPP is an outlier in the race, though – Rasmussen has Bush ahead 50-45, SurveyUSA says it’s Buck by 48-43 and Marist calls it for Buck 50-42.

WEST VIRGINIA: Democrat Gov. Joe Manchin is shooting copies of the Cap and Trade bill in his TV commercials and positioning himself to the right of Attila The Hun, but it’s not really working in a state where Obama polls in the 30’s. Manchin is popular, but the voters don’t appear to want to send a Democrat to Washington. Republican John Raese is ahead by 4.5 points in the RCP average, and Rasmussen had him up 50-44 last week.

ILLINOIS: It’s more or less a race to the bottom, but Republican Mark Kirk’s unimpressive campaign seems a bit less self-destructive than Democrat Alexi Giannoulias’ campaign. While Giannoulias continues to struggle with answers to questions why his family bank made a practice of loaning money to mobsters, Kirk has opened a small 1.2 point lead in the RCP average. Rasmussen polled the race last week and had Kirk ahead 45-41. Kirk is going to need to win by at least three points on Election Day, though, or else the Illinois Democrats can be counted on to win with the graveyard vote.

NEVADA: Fox News’ latest poll has Sharron Angle out in front of Harry Reid by a 49-47 number, and that margin is the same as a CNN-Time poll which had her up 42-40 last week. Reid still leads in the RCP average by 0.3 points. But a TCJ poll out yesterday which hasn’t been included in the RCP average has better prospects for Angle; she leads 52-46 in that survey.

WASHINGTON: Dino Rossi seems to have some momentum of late, as he’s surged ahead of Democrat incumbent Patty Murray in the two latest polls. An AAF/Fabrizio survey gave Rossi a 48-42 margin a couple of weeks ago, while Fox News today had Rossi ahead 47-46. He leads by 1.7 points in the RCP average. Of course, Rossi had a close governor’s race stolen from him by Kristie Gregoire in 2004, courtesy of fraudulent ballots put forth by the ACORN chapter in Seattle. He’s going to need to be ahead by at least three points or it could happen again.

With all of the second tier seats, Republicans capture the Senate. To solidify control and perhaps provide a margin of error, though, there is a third tier of races where a GOP pickup remains possible.

CALIFORNIA: Last week Reuters/Ipsos and Rasmussen both returned a 49-45 number in favor of Barbara Boxer over Republican challenger Carly Fiorina, and Boxer holds a five-point margin in the RCP average. Fiorina underpolled in the primary, though, so she’s still very much in the race. The TCJ survey from yesterday indicated Boxer is ahead just two points, 48-46.

CONNECTICUT: Linda McMahon continues to eat away at Richard Blumenthal’s lead, though she has yet to climb over the clumsy Democrat into a lead. A Fox News poll out yesterday says Blumenthal holds a 49-43 advantage – which is a change from the 52-42 lead he held just one week ago. You could infer that voters are peeling off Blumenthal thanks to his disastrous performance in last week’s debate. The TCJ survey says it’s a 52-45 Blumenthal lead. McMahon remains a long shot, but she does continue picking up support and tightening the race. The RCP average has Blumenthal up 9.5 points.

NEW YORK: Joe DioGuardia is down by 16 points in the RCP average against incumbent Democrat Kristen Gillibrand, though there are some who say he’s a good candidate to pull a Scott Brown-style close in the last three weeks. Don’t count on it, as DioGuardia is underfunded. If he wasn’t, he’d have a chance, as Gillibrand’s history as a contributor to the housing collapse while working for Andrew Cuomo at HUD ought to sink her political career.

DELAWARE: Christine O’Donnell is going to lose to Chris Coons, as TCJ has her down 53-38 and Fox News has the race 54-38. The RCP average says it’s Coons by 16.2 points, and that seems like too much of a lead to overcome. But here’s an interesting take on the race courtesy of RedState.com’s Erick Erickson, who says that tea-party midgets can beat media/establishment tigers (he’s using tigers instead of lions because he’s an LSU fan), but it takes a sacrificial midget or two to make it happen…

But because of Christine O’Donnell’s willing sacrifice, the tigers are distracted. With only about twenty-two days left, the tigers are just now trying to refocus on Sharron Angle, Ken Buck, Mike Lee, Joe Miller, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Pat Toomey, and Ron Johnson. Meanwhile, for the past five weeks or so, these candidates have built up leads or drawn even with their opponents.

While the tigers have been taking out Christine O’Donnell, these candidates have surrounded the tigers and are preparing to slay the beasts.

There are many on the right who speak derisively of Christine O’Donnell. They lament her rise. They insult her. They spit when they say her name. Even here at RedState, many commenters pull out their hair over Christine O’Donnell.

Shame on all those who do that. When the book is written on Election 2010, the media will mock the O’Donnell candidacy, but whether she wins or loses she will be a hero in my book. But for her, neither Sharron Angle nor Ken Buck nor Mike Lee nor Joe Miller nor Marco Rubio nor Rand Paul nor Pat Toomey nor Ron Johnson would have had as strong a chance of winning in this last month before the general election.

Christine O’Donnell, willingly or not, has stood firm in the face of the media and establishment onslaught and distracted them all. And only now, with twenty-two days left, are the media and establishment turning, in terror, to realize how close the midgets are to slaying the tigers.

Do not insult or belittle Christine O’Donnell here at RedState. Because of her, even if she cannot win, she has distracted the tigers long enough so that others can win. She is owed our thanks.

In other words, the GOP can get to 51 seats if current trends remain, and California and Connecticut could potentially get Republicans to 53 seats. That’s a pretty good election cycle in the Senate if it’s coupled with the acquisition of some 50-75 House seats and as many as 35 governors’ mansions under GOP control at the end of the day.

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