New polls released in Kentucky, Nevada, and California show that Democrats are making a big comeback in each state, and the tide may be turning against the GOP. In Kentucky Rand Paul has blown a 15 point lead in less than a month. In Nevada, Harry Reid is up by 5 points on Sharron Angle, and in California the Democrats in both the gubernatorial and the Senate races now lead.
The most interesting case is in Kentucky where Rand Paul has seen a 15 point lead evaporate in less than three weeks. During the first week of September, Paul lead state attorney general Jack Conway 55%-40%, in the Courier-Journal/WHAS 11 Bluegrass Poll, but that lead has complete vanished as Paul still leads 49%-47% with 4% undecided. The race is now within the margin of error, which means that it is a dead heat. What appears to have happened is that women are now tuning in and paying attention, and coming home to the Democrats. In the earlier September poll, Conway only had a 3 point lead with women, but that lead has since ballooned to 16 points. Paul has also seen his lead over Conway drop by 16 points among those who make $50,000 or more.
In Nevada, a Public Opinion Strategies Poll of registered voters shows Harry Reid leading Sharron Angle 45%-40%. Both Reid and Angle were known by 98% of those surveyed, and what seems to be killing Angle is a low favorable rating. Both Reid and Angle have high unfavorable ratings of 51% and 52% respectively, but the difference between the two candidates is that Sharron Angle has 38% favorable rating compared to 44% favorable rating for Reid. If Republicans would have run a candidate that voters in Nevada could like, Reid would probably be well on his way to defeat, but as it stands if Reid wins by 5-6 points, the GOP will have the Tea Party to thank for costing them another Senate seat.
In California, a new LA Times/USC survey has found that both well known and wealthy Republican candidates for senator and governor are faltering. The underfunded, but well known, Jerry Brown is now leading Meg Whitman 49%-44%. While Sen. Barbara Boxer has opened up an eight point lead on her Republican challenger Carly Fiorina, 51%-43%. Both of the GOP candidates have the same problem. Voters don’t like them. Meg Whitman has spent $119 million trying to become the next governor, yet she has only a 33% favorable rating. Her unfavorable rating is 44%. In comparison, her opponent Democrat Jerry Brown has 40% approval rating and 41% disapproval rating.
Meg Whitman’s favorable numbers are bad, but Carly Fiorina’s are worse. While her unfavorable rating is a relatively low 29%, her favorable rating is a miserable 24%. In contrast, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer has 44% favorable rating, and a 41% unfavorable rating. Fiorina’s biggest problem though is the popularity of Barack Obama. The president enjoys a 63% favorable rating in the state, and Fiorina’s promise to work against Obama’s agenda may have doomed her with the voters, as the survey of registered voters discovered that 56% of them wanted a senator who would support President Obama.
The polls are not only tightening because it is October and people are starting to pay attention, but there is something else at work here. In their quest for ideological purity, Republicans have nominated some very unlikable candidates, and in state after state the more voters see and hear the Teapublican candidates, the less they like them. This is why the Teapublicans avoid debating their opponents and the media. The more people find out about these candidates, the better the Democrats look.
While it is still too early to say definitively what will happen in November, since Obama’s election, Republicans have struggled both on issues like healthcare reform, and in special elections with the problem of peaking too early, fading late, and being unable to close the deal with voters and the public. The Democratic strategy this year is to spend late in the cycle to capitalize on the GOP fade.
What looked like a bloodbath for the Democrats is starting to shape up to be a traditional midterm election during a recession. It is very possible that the GOP will end up blowing their chance at a historic victory, because their party’s radical fringe took over and nominated a slate of unelectable candidates. Even though the national media has not caught on yet, and would be unlikely to change their narrative if they did, this election is starting to turn, and there should be no surprise if the Democrats manage to do okay on Election Night.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association