Monday, February 1, 2010

Looking ahead on the Senate

Our Alaska poll last week showed a pretty rough 35/51 approval breakdown for first term Senator Mark Begich. Those kinds of numbers hardly make Begich alone among the Democratic Senators elected for the first time in the wave years of 2006 and 2008 and it's a reminder of how important it is for the party to cut its losses this year- because structurally the next two cycles set up much worse, although it's impossible to say what the political climate will be like for those elections.

In the last year we've done approval polling on 9 of the 17 Democratic Senators first elected in the last two cycles. Two of them- Mark Warner and Amy Klobuchar- have really good numbers. A third, Jim Webb, has pretty solid numbers but could have trouble next time anyway if he finds himself in an epic rematch with George Allen.

The other six we have numbers on- Claire McCaskill, Sherrod Brown, Robert Menendez, Mark Udall, Kay Hagan, and Begich all have net negative numbers and/or approval ratings under 40%. Our latest on McCaskill was a 42/45, for Brown it was 38/36, for Menendez 34/45, Udall 39/38, and Hagan 29/42.

These numbers obviously come at a rock bottom time for Democrats- 2012 and 2014 will probably be better for the party, especially if the Republicans do get back in charge. That's just the cycle of politics. But these folks are all so far from safety level sorts of numbers that you have to imagine they'll all have tough fights to keep their seats when the time comes. Do the Republicans have a good chance of taking the Senate this year? No. But they can certainly put themselves in a position to finish the job with a lot of freshman Democrats up the next couple times around.


Timothy said...

I am already looking forward to Kay Hagan's concession speech in 2014.

Christian Liberty said...

You almost had a good analysis, until you injected the wishful thinking that "These numbers obviously come at a rock bottom time for Democrats". When the economy fails to recover throughout 2010... when the stock indexes top out and reverse course... when the ranks of long-term unemployed grows from its current record numbers... when another wave of adjustable rate mortgages demand higher payments... when a second wave of mortgage defaults, short sales, foreclosures (and deeds in lieu of) suppress hopes of recovering real estate markets... when more banks go insolvent... Democrats' approvals will continue to decline throughout 2010.

So far, we have only seen Obama and the Democrats lose Republicans and conservatives, independents and moderates. So far, we have mostly seen the Democrats lose ground with those who are not optimistic about the economy. So far, a large segment continues to blame Bush (Rasmussen).

What happens when those who are still optimistic about the economy become more disillusioned? (Investors and those with higher incomes are already more sour on the economy than non-investors or those with lower incomes. Women are still more optimistic than men, contributing to the gender gaps.) What happens when time wears on the blame Bush excuse?

If Obama's approval ratings are mid40s, low50s it makes no sense to claim that Democrats have hit rock bottom. His support (and his party's support) is still soft and heavily dependent on the hope of economic recovery. When his approval is in the 20s we can talk about Democrats hitting bottom.

Anonymous said...

to Christian Liberty - sounds like you're wishing for a double dip recession, perhaps a depression. While you're at it, why not wish for a terrorist attack. not my kind of Christian.

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