Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Three New Senate Polls Show Incumbents in Trouble

In Polling, Senate on April 7, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Mississippi

A new survey testing the Republican primary race between veteran Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel again suggests that this intra-party incumbent challenge is becoming the most serious in the nation.

According to a NSON Opinion Strategies survey (released April 2; 400 likely Mississippi Republican primary voters) conducted for the Tea Party Express and provided to Breitbart News, the senator only maintains a 45-37 percent lead over the Tea Party-backed state legislator. This is consistent with earlier public data.

Sen. Cochran, 76 years of age and in his 42nd year of congressional service, is running for a seventh term. He was the first Republican senator elected in a Deep South state during the modern political era, thus beginning the region’s political realignment trend. He has been under attack from conservative organizations for a period of months. It is already known that those outside groups with people and money, such as the Tea Party Leadership Fund, the Tea Party Express, and the Club for Growth, are planning to expend serious resources to independently support the challenger’s effort.

Louisiana

Magellan Strategies, who broke onto the national polling scene in a big way during the 2010 election cycle, released new data in what promises to be a close and interesting Louisiana Senate race. The survey (conducted for conservative contributor Lane Grigsby; March 24-26; 600 registered Louisiana voters) generally produces bad news for three-term incumbent Mary Landrieu (D).

As you likely remember, Louisiana employs a “jungle” primary system that is held concurrently with the general election. If no candidate secures an outright majority in the November vote, then the top two finishers, regardless of political party affiliation, advance to a Dec. 6 run-off. If, by chance, deciding the Senate majority comes down to this one seat, then the eyes of the entire nation will be intently watching the post-election campaign.

Working within the jungle format, Magellan finds Sen. Landrieu placing first in a field of four candidates, but falling far below the 50 percent level. She gains 39 percent of the polling respondents’ support, as compared to 26 percent for Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6). Both state Rep. Paul Hollis (R) and retired Air Force officer Rob Maness (R) capture 3 percent apiece.

But it is within the systemic figures where the senator is failing. Her job approval score is 42:53 percent favorable to unfavorable. This compares to a 60:28 percent positive score for fellow Sen. David Vitter (R), and a 47:48 percent ratio for Gov. Bobby Jindal (R). The respondents would favor a generic Republican for the Senate seat over a generic Democrat by a 41-34 percent clip, and they feel things in America are on the wrong track by a poor 68:21 percent count.

But, perhaps Sen. Landrieu’s most negative number is her re-elect percentage. When asked whether the senator deserves re-election, by a strong 56-34 percent margin, the sampling universe members say she does not.

Oregon

If there is a sleeper Senate race in the country this year, it may well be in Oregon. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) runs for a second term in a state where the Obamacare problems could be the most severe in the nation. At one point before the situation improved, the software problems relating to the Oregon healthcare exchanges had literally completed the application process for not one person.

Under this backdrop, Harper Polling surveyed the Beaver State electorate (April 1-2; 670 registered Oregon voters) and found Sen. Merkley only scoring mediocre ratings. In terms of job approval, the senator posted a 39:32 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio.

When paired with two virtually unknown Republican candidates, the incumbent registers a discernible lead, but with underwhelming margins. When matched with state Rep. Jason Conger (R), Merkley claims a 47-40 percent lead. Against surgeon and first-time candidate Monica Wehby (R), the senator’s margin expands to 46-34 percent.

While Sen. Merkley is beyond the margin of polling error in all scenarios, his standing suggests latent vulnerability. An unstable Oregon political climate could also lead to an increased across-the-board level of competition in the fall.

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