Cook Political Report: Dodd’s chances at reelection do not look good – plus other polling news

His polling numbers have been looking bad for over a year now, ever since the stories of his Countrywide sweetheart mortgage deal and his role in the economic meltdown broke. Cook Political Report’s Jennifer Duffy has gone out on a limb and predicted that his chances of getting elected again to yet another term in the US Senate are slim (via The Scorecard):

It’s been obvious since the start of the cycle that Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd would face the toughest campaign of his long political career. Even Dodd has publicly acknowledged his vulnerability. He got his campaign up and running early and started running flights of ads last spring.

Still, it is increasingly clear to both independent analysts and Democratic leaders that Dodd is just too badly damaged to have a decent shot at getting re-elected, almost regardless of who wins the Republican nomination. Democrats have given Dodd time to attempt to repair his problems, but nothing appears to have helped enough to salvage his position…

These numbers jibe with our view that Dodd is about as unelectable as unindicted incumbents get. And now that Democratic leaders have reached a similar conclusion, the question is how public they have to get before Dodd takes the hint that it is time to exit the race, and how messy the situation becomes…

As a general policy, the Cook Political Report does not rate unindicted incumbents worse than “Toss Up,” at least until Labor Day of the election year since some endangered incumbents have a tendency to make comebacks despite appearing hopeless early in the cycle. There have been some rare exceptions to this policy over the years, and Dodd now joins that small group. The race moves from Toss Up to Lean Republican.

Here are polling numbers for potential match-ups against Dodd next year. Looks like the strongest of the lot is former US Congressman Rob Simmons, a veteran of both the military and the CIA. The reason he is a “former” Congressman is because he lost to his Democrat opponent in 2006 by 83 votes. Simmons’ Congressional voting record can be viewed here.

How sweet would Chris Dodd losing his Senate seat be? Almost as sweet as Senate Majority “Leader” Harry Reid losing his. Things aren’t looking good for him, either:

Nevadans aren’t warming up to Sen. Harry Reid, despite plenty of early advertising designed to boost his image, a new poll shows.

Just 38 percent of respondents said they had a favorable opinion of the Democratic Senate majority leader, the same percentage as in October and 1 point higher than in August.

The survey of 625 registered Nevada voters by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research suggests the promotional bombardment that Reid launched more than six weeks ago has yet to hit its target.

“I’d be worried,” said Michael Franz, an assistant professor at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, who studies political advertising. “I’d stop if I had aired ads for two or three weeks and it wasn’t moving the needle.”

According to the poll commissioned by the Review-Journal, 49 percent of respondents had an unfavorable opinion of Reid, while 13 percent were neutral.

“We’ve always said we will run an aggressive campaign that includes early television, and this is just the beginning,” said Reid campaign manager Brandon Hall. “Senator Reid is fighting to make Nevada stronger every day, and his leadership position is particularly important during these tough economic times. We’re confident that as voters begin to understand the clear choice between his leadership for Nevada and Republican candidates with no new ideas, they will ultimately decide that Nevada is best served by re-electing Senator Reid next November.”

Among nine Republican candidates vying to challenge Reid in November only three had support levels in double digits: businesswoman and former GOP official Sue Lowden, attorney and businessman Danny Tarkanian, and former Nevada assemblywoman Sharron Angle.

More Reid poll numbers can be found here.

And finally, a new CNN poll released today shows that the GOP has erased the “popularity gap” with Democrats:

Washington (CNN) — Eleven months before crucial midterm elections, a national poll indicates that the public is divided over whether the country would be better off with Democrats or Republicans controlling Congress.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Thursday, 40 percent of people questioned say the U.S. would be better off if Democrats ran Congress while 39 percent feel things would be better if Republicans took charge on Capitol Hill. The 1-point margin is a statistical tie.

Support for Democrats is down from a 10-point advantage in August and a 25-point margin in January.

“As the debate over health care continues, the Democrats may have lost the competitive advantage that they enjoyed earlier this year,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. “Since August, the number who support Democratic control of Congress has fallen farthest in the Northeast and the Pacific Rim — two regions that have been Democratic strongholds for many years.”

Nineteen percent of people questioned say that the country would be in the same condition regardless of which party controls Congress.

Full poll results (PDF)

All 435 seats in the House and more than a third in the Senate are up for grabs in November 2010. Democrats will be defending their 258-177 margin in the House and 20-seat advantage in the Senate.

Earlier this year, Campaign Spot’s Jim Geraghy noted that GOP recruitment for House seats was looking promising. On the Senate side of things, Karl Rove wrote an opinion piece in the WSJ today in which he predicted that the GOP won’t win back control of the Senate, but still could make a dent in the Democrat majority, thanks to top-notch recruiting efforts:

Democrats began the year as masters of the political universe, winning the White House and increasing their majorities in Congress. But the year is ending badly for them. Their top initiative, health care, is deeply unpopular. Congress’s approval rating is 26%, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s is 28%, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s is an anemic 14%.

Political currents are running against the party of Barack Obama. Democrats now trail Republicans by four points in Gallup’s generic ballot poll. In 1994, the year the GOP took control of Congress, it wasn’t until March that Republicans took the lead in that poll—and then only by one point and for a short period of time.

With a good environment this election cycle, Republicans have recruited competitive candidates who could turn otherwise close contests into runaway victories, likely defeats into wins or at least close contests that, if things break right, tip to the GOP.

Today, there are only 40 Republicans in the Senate. In January 2011, there could be 44, 46 or more if the party runs strong campaigns in contests that haven’t jelled yet, or if some Democrats retire instead of risking defeat.

One feature giving Republicans an edge is that several senate seats are up for grabs because the politicians who were elected to fill them are now serving in the Obama administration. This includes seats formerly held by Mr. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.


Democrats have so far failed to convince first-tier candidates to take on the 12 GOP incumbent senators up for re-election. An exception is Louisiana, but Democrat Charlie Melancon faces long odds against Republican David Vitter in a state that gave Mr. Obama only 40% of its vote.

Republicans have also recruited good candidates for their open seats. New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte is competitive, as are Ohio’s Rob Portman and Missouri’s Roy Blunt. Republicans in Florida have to get through a primary fight, but either Gov. Charlie Crist or former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio will likely hold the seat. (I’ve donated to Messrs. Blunt and Rubio.) Only Kentucky’s open seat vacated by Jim Bunning causes the GOP squeamishness.

Read the whole thing.

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