Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Republican Senate Candidates

Our polls in Florida and Nevada this week really make you wonder: how strong a position would the GOP be in for this fall if it had done a better job of candidate recruitment? Almost every Republican Senate challenger in the country has favorability numbers that leave something to be desired.

There are a few exceptions. Republicans definitely scored coups in getting John Hoeven in North Dakota and Mike Castle in Delaware to run, so much so that we haven't even bothered to poll those races in 2010. Dan Coats seems to be doing pretty well in Indiana so far also, although I think that has some potential to change as the race heats up. John Boozman is a solid candidate in Arkansas, although pretty much anyone could have beaten Blanche Lincoln this year.

Beyond that though most of the GOP Senate candidates are either unpopular or unknown.

In the unpopular category Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, Marco Rubio, Mark Kirk, Roy Blunt, Carly Fiorina, and Ken Buck all had net favorability numbers of -5 or worse on our most recent surveys.

Kelly Ayotte, Pat Toomey, Ron Johnson, and Rob Portman didn't do that poorly but part of the reason is that they're mostly unknown- more than 40% of voters have no opinion about Ayotte and Toomey, more than 50% are ambivalent toward Portman, and for Johnson that figures rises over 60%.

Republicans may win all the close Senate races this year anyway just because it's such a bad political climate for Democrats, but the possibility's there for the GOP to end up losing a fair numbers of contests where they would have been successful even with an average candidate but where a below average candidate will end up causing them to lose by a point or two.

Here's the favorability numbers we have on GOP Senate candidates:





Kelly Ayotte




Pat Toomey




Ron Johnson




Rob Portman




Ken Buck




Rand Paul




Mark Kirk




Carly Fiorina




Marco Rubio




Roy Blunt




Sharron Angle





DCCyclone said...

Good post, Tom, but a few quibbles......

I think Republicans deserve a break on Kirk and Fiorina, as these were likely the best they can do in very blue states wehre the GOP bench is thin. Kirk was recruited as a moderate sitting Congressman who had survived tough challenges in a district with a voting pattern roughly similar to the state as a whole, so he was a particularly strong candidate on paper. And Fiorina at least has a lot of money, a big hurdle in massively expensive California; it's hard for any Republican there to convince enough donors (s)he's viable statewide to actually become financially viable.

And I'm not sure the Republican crop this year is any worse than the Democratic crop in 2008? After all, Democrats won with Al Franken and a couple unknown state legislators, Jeff Merkley and Kay Hagan. The other Dems who picked up GOP-held seats were sitting or former high-profile (in their states) electeds, but so are people like Portman and Blunt.

Oh, and regarding Florida, Rubio was no one's recruit, Charlie Crist was the Republican recruit! Only when Crist tanked in the primary did Rubio rise to become the party's darling.

Where you're right is that Democrats have never wanted anyone with resumes or profiles the likes of Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, or Ken Buck for U.S. Senate races. Republicans will argue Al Franken is analogous to these characters, but Franken at least was a Harvard grad who moved home to Minnesota and invested heavily in helping the state party before running himself; in other words, he wasn't a gadfly-turned-darling, he went thoroughly conventional before running.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of DE, is there any chance you could poll it again sometime? Rasmussen has shown the margin closing down to ~10% last week, I think, so it would be nice to have possible confirmation, or perhaps even show a closer race.

DBL said...

Fiorina is a good recruit. She's a woman with a strong business background. People like outsiders, especially now. She spent time in a bruising primary and that hurt her numbers.

The GOP has only had two statewide officeholders in the last ten years, one of whom ran for governor and the other is enormously unpopular. No GOP congressman is well known.

Angle and Paul weren't the choices of the NRSC, so they can hardly be responsible for the negatives.The Democrats have savaged them. I imagine any nominee would be similarly unpopular under such circumstances.

Wisconsin was a failure, but Johnson's lack of negatives is a positive. Dino Rossi was a coup.

Kirk was a great recruit until the padded resume came up. Simmons, Blunt, Portman, and Toomey should all be well known in their states. Of course the problem with GOP congressmen is that they have the taint of the Bush years.

At this point Republicans have few well known/popular politicians.

The GOP failure was not fielding respectable candidates in Oregon, New York, and Maryland. None of these were good shots, but then who thought California, Wisconsin, or Washington would be?

NRH said...

Kirk's favorability numbers had been much stronger before the campaign started, hadn't they? When his mendacity about his military history came out, that hurt him. When he got better known in general, as a Republican in a strongly blue state, that hurt him. He was a good recruit at the beginning, and I agree with DCCyclone that Republicans don't deserve a knock for picking him in Illinois. He hasn't lived up to their expectations, but that's mostly his own fault.

I would probably flip that statement on the Florida race, though. Only when Rubio became the Tea Party's darling did Crist tank in the primary. Crist was the Republican establishment recruit, Rubio was the Tea Party recruit, in a bad year for Republican establishment candidates (see: Crist, Specter, Norton, Lowden, Bennett, Grayson, and possibly Ayotte).

NRH said...

Fiorina has an extensive business background, but not a good one. Her tenure at HP was disastrous, and the California Chamber of Commerce (normally a stoutly right-wing organization) has refused to give her its endorsement. It wasn't so much that she was recruited as she decided to toss some of her own money into the race, and there was nobody on the state Republican political scene with a shot, so they were just as happy to let her spend her own money taking a shot at it. When there's nobody plausible in the field, might as well let a self-funder run with it.

Anonymous said...


Regarding Macro Rubio, what are you talking about? Christ WAS the old boy Republican darling until Tea Party people got fed up enough with his "weathervane in the wind" type of politics and supported Rubio from obscurity to where he is now. Christ tanked and then abandoned the Republican Party precisely because of Rubio's meteoric rise, not before it.

tamara said...

I disgusted at pretty much all the canadates. I'm evern more digusted at the names being thrown around as possible GOP presidential candidates, mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckaby. Sarah Palin! Come on!

Anonymous said...

The funny thing about Rubio is he hasn't spent any money yet.

The Mechanical Trader said...

ummmmm....if you study American history, things are actually looking very good for candidates that seek to follow the Constitution.

There seems to be a lot of pundits that believe democracy is a "instant mashed potatoes" thing....change takes time and the GOP has been CURSED by very bad leadership and very liberal national leaders - the entire top leadership of the House and Senate of the GOP needs to go - the national GOP is perennially TONE DEAF to actually practicing "states' rights" and not propping up the nanny state that is steadily overwhelming American Families.

Combined with the fact that the entire national/regional media is dead set against Constitutional governance and routinely smears, lies any conservative GOP politician.

Anonymous said...

"Christ WAS the old boy Republican darling until Tea Party people got fed up enough with his "weathervane in the wind" type of politics"

Where in the Bible is this documented?

Anonymous said...

What about Dino Rossi in Washington? He's well known.

Anonymous said...

But who wants a Rino? Dems might like them, but won't vote for them, and real conservatives can't stand them. We aren't electing OUR candidate to NOT represent our issues.

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