The Not-So Popular Party

Much of the behavior of Democratic Senate candidates can be explained by one simple fact: very few of them are going to get 50% of the vote this fall. Even the candidates who have a good chance to win are going to struggle to get to 50%. Let’s take a quick look at the RealClearPolitics polling averages for the 22 Senate races that RCP lists as being in play, or where there’s no average the last listed (generally Rasmussen) poll, just focusing on the Democratic candidate – as you will see, in only 4 of those 22 races is the Democrat polling 50/50 or better, and in only 7 of the 22 is the Democrat even polling above 43%:
CT-Blumenthal 53%
OR-Wyden 53%
WV-Manchin 51%
NY-Gillibrand 50%
These are the few popular Democrats. Wyden, Blumenthal and Manchin are all popular figures (an incumbent Senator, AG and Governor, respectively). The first two are solid favorites; Manchin could face a tough race if the GOP can tie him to the Obama Administration, which is deeply unpopular in West Virginia, but for now he’s in a good place. Gillibrand has suffered soft approval ratings but for now has little known opposition.
WA-Murray 47%
NV-Reid 46%
CA-Boxer 46%
Three incumbents in jeopardy (an incumbent polling below 50 is always considered in danger) and facing vigorous challenges, but all stand a fighting chance. Harry Reid, while he’s revived from being down below 40%, simply can’t crack 50% – neither can his son, running for governor – which is why his strategy is almost entirely built around the national media battering Sharron Angle and letting third-party candidates siphon off enough votes to let him win below 50 as he did in 1998.
CO-Bennet/Romanoff 43%
WI-Feingold 42%
MO-Carnahan 42%
KY-Conway 41%
PA-Sestak 41%
OH-Fisher 40%
Only Feingold and Bennet are incumbents here, and so a number of these races still have a lot of undecideds. (In Colorado, the Senate primary is something of a proxy war, with President Obama actively backing Bennet after failing to bribe Romanoff to drop out of the race, while former President Clinton is backing Romanoff). But again, voters don’t seem too enamored of any of them, which is why the Democrats will be running an almost entirely negative fall campaign focused on driving small numbers of voters from the GOP to third parties.
Below 40%
NH-Hodes 39%
IL-Giannoulias 38%
NC-Marshall 37%
IA-Conlin 37%
FL-Crist 37/36%, Meek 16%, Greene 17%
DE-Coons 36%
LA-Melancon 34%
AR-Lincoln 33%
IN-Ellsworth 30%
Not all of these races are uncompetitive – incumbent Richard Burr is listed at a weak 46% in North Carolina, Mark Kirk is even below Giannoulias in Illinois, and of course in Florida the establishment Democrats are abandoning their own candidates to line up behind the incumbent, nominally Republican governor (a man the DNC stood ready to demonize if McCain had chosen him as a running mate in 2008), Charlie Crist. But once again, the divide-and-conquer strategy is basically the only way they can play this hand.
If the Democrats manage to hold onto the Senate, it won’t be because the people of more than a tiny number of the states voting this November have actually given their performance a thumbs-up.

6 thoughts on “The Not-So Popular Party”

  1. The Democrat party of our childhood does not exist anymore. Now it is a coalition. The greens, enviro, gays, baby killers, etc… now make up the party. Harry Truman, JFK and even HHH are kickin’ at the lid when they look down on their party today.

  2. Yes, and the GOP of yore is still in tact what with all the fiscal conservatives, social moderates and religious centrists in charge of the party today I’m sure Lincoln and the gane are all immensely proud of what y’all have going on. What a ridiculous comment to start this off.

  3. I’m seriously hoping for something other than a McMahon-Blumenthal race in CT for governor, but that seems to be the likely outcome.

  4. I was pulling for Rob Simmons. Simmons isn’t as fiscally conservative as, say, Scott Brown, let alone Jim DeMint, but he’s a serious guy and the kind of moderate who should have a shot in CT, unlike Schiff.
    And while it’s not the main issue, he’d be better positioned to tweak Blumenthal about the Vietnam stuff – unlike Blumenthal (but like Mark Kirk), Simmons is a guy with a serious military record.

  5. Sorry, my last post said “governor” when it should have said “senate.”
    I’d take Simmons over McMahon, given the choice, and most likely over Blumenthal. Simmon’s military background is a double-edged sword for me. I’m glad he’s serious about it, but I don’t want military spending going through the roof either. Still, Blumenthal is not who I want in the Senate if I can help it.

  6. Even in the context of your tiresome one-sided posts, this one stands out. Had you included the percentages for the GOP candidiates, the results would have been similar — most candidates well below 50% and frequently below the Deomcratic candidate.
    So, “[i]f the [GOP] manage to [take over] the Senate, it won’t be because the people of more than a tiny number of the states voting this November have actually given their performance a thumbs-up.”

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