One of the most striking things in our Ohio poll last week was the incredible unpopularity of George Voinovich. Only 22% of voters in the state approve of the job he's doing, while 48% disapprove. The most remarkable thing about his numbers is how consistently bad they are across party lines- he's actually doing best with Democrats at 23/44, followed by Republicans at 21/49, and gets his highest level of disapproval from Republicans at 22/53.
Voinovich's numbers are indicative of one thing that hasn't received a lot of attention this cycle- one reason so few Republican held seats are in play on the Senate side is that most of the party's really unpopular incumbents retired. Democrats would be in much better shape running against Voinovich this fall than Rob Portman, although you have to wonder given Voinovich's numbers if he might have been primaried had he run again.
Ohio's not the only state where Republicans improved their lot with a Senate retirement. Our last Kentucky poll found Jim Bunning's approval numbers at 27/44. Rand Paul's not real popular either with favorability numbers of 34/42, but the GOP is still a good deal better off with him than it would have been with Bunning.
Florida's another example. When we were polling Florida in 2008 Mel Martinez had absolutely dreadful approval numbers at 23/37. But he got out of the way and Marco Rubio with a favorability of 40/37 is much stronger.
There are examples of this on the Democratic side as well- Chris Dodd probably saved his seat for his party with his retirement. But there's no doubt the Republicans whose reelection campaigns could have given their parties a lot of trouble this fall saw the writing on the wall.