Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lincoln's numbers: good but not great

PPP's newest survey finds Blanche Lincoln not necessarily in danger of losing reelection next year, but certainly not unbeatable either.

45% of voters in the state approve of her job performance, with 40% dissenting. Those numbers place her at about the median of the Senators whose approval ratings PPP has gauged since last summer.

Lincoln is struggling with independent voters in the state, 50% of whom say they disapprove of her work compared to only 31% approving. Her numbers are about as polarized along party lines as you would expect, with 73% of Democrats but only 22% of Republicans giving her good marks.

In hypothetical contests with former US Attorney Tim Griffin and state senator Gilbert Baker, Lincoln leads 46-38 and 48-37 respectively. Griffin and Baker each function basically as the generic Republican candidate, since neither of them has very much statewide name recognition. 58% of voters have no opinion about Griffin and 55% say the same about Baker.

Allocate the undecideds proportionately in those contests and you find Lincoln getting 54-56% of the vote, very much in line with what she earned in both 1998 and 2004. That would seem to be an indication that Lincoln hasn't reached an entrenched/unbeatable sort of status after a couple of terms that Mark Pryor would seem to have, but she isn't necessarily in grave danger either.

Whether this becomes a top tier race or not next year may come down to a matter of resources. Republicans will have to spend a lot of money to keep open seats in New Hampshire, Missouri, Ohio, Florida and possibly Pennsylvania if Arlen Specter loses in the primary. They also need to play a fair amount of defense in North Carolina and Kentucky. So that's a lot of seats they have to hold on to before they start going on the offensive. Arkansas would certainly seem to be at the top of the list along with Connecticut and Nevada as states where Republicans would have at least some semblance of a chance to take out a Democratic incumbent but whether they decide to make that investment or not remains to be seen. If they don't Lincoln's numbers are solid enough that she should get reelected fairly easily.

Full results here

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