The big Republican victories in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Virginia over the last four months were all fueled by the party racking up huge wins with independents. Our final polls in those states had Scott Brown winning them by 32, Bob McDonnell winning them by 30, and Chris Christie winning them by 23.
Is the GOP having the same kind of success with those voters in all the 2010 races that it did in those contests? Yes and no.
Republicans have led with independents in 13 out of 15 Senate and Gubernatorial contests we've polled on since November. And in 10 out of 13 of those contests it was a double digit lead with independents.
At the same time only three of those races have shown the Republican candidate winning by greater than 20 points with independents, which suggests Democrats are staying at least a little more competitive than they were in the last few statewide elections.
The three races where Democrats are losing by more than 20 points with independents are some big ones- Blanche Lincoln down 46 to John Boozman, Harry Reid down 35 to Sue Lowden, and Jack Conway down 33 to Rand Paul.
The exceptions to the rule- the two Democrats winning with independents- are Richard Blumenthal by 20 over Rob Simmons in Connecticut, and Russ Feingold by 6 over Tommy Thompson.
Democrats certainly continue to have a major problem with independents but it may not be as bad across the board this year as it was in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Virginia.