From Florida to Colorado, Dems Clawing Back Up
by Nathan Empsall, Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 03:41:11 PM EST
Kos had a headline last week that said, “The tide is turning.” I wouldn’t go quite that far – the generic ballot isn’t Charlie Cook bad, but it’s still not good – but it is true that Democrats have seen a spate of good news lately, both in terms of polls and policy, and I think more is on the way.
Part of the good news is that the DCCC is going on offense, as Jonathan highlighted this morning. We will lose House seats, but the best way to blunt those losses is to flip some red seats, and the GOP has targeted nine incumbents and four open seats.
They do so with certain polls at their back. Two of the last three generic ballot polls give Democrats a lead, and the third is from Rasmussen. Ipsos/McClatchy’s ten point lead is probably an outlier as well, but even ignoring both Rasmussen and Ipsos, we still have a 47-44 Gallup lead. It’s a smaller lead than Dems usually need to do well, but I’ll take it.
In Senate politics, Rep. Kendrick Meek is running surprisingly strong in Florida. According to PPP, likely Repub nominee Marco Rubio is ahead of Meek by just 44-39, “and because there are a lot more undecided Democrats (20%) than Republicans (12%) the race is realistically probably even closer than 5 points.” Perhaps even more importantly, “Meek leads 41-34 with independents, a very rare outcome in this political climate when independents are usually leaning strongly toward the GOP.” In New York, Kirstin Gillibrand’s favorable keep on climbing. Per Rasmussen, that somewhat conservative firm, her approval spread is now 50-37. In November, it was 40-37, and in September, it was a net negative of 39-42.
Certain Governors’ races are looking good, too, including three pick-up opportunities. First, in Nevada, a poll out Sunday is the sixth in a row to show Democrat Rory Reid leading Jim Gibbons – Rasmussen has him up 44-36 despite his father’s down-ticket drag. In Georgia, a state that has voted Democrat for President just three times in 48 years, the likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate is leading all potential opponents. Another PPP poll shows former Gov. Roy Barnes beating Republicans 40-39, 41-36, and 43-38. Another red state where I look forward to the Governor’s race is my native Texas, where our best candidate since Ann Richards goes against an incumbent with a 32% approval rating. And though it would be a hold rather than a pick-up, it looks like Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper has regained the lead in Colorado.
These encouraging numbers come in the midst of a bad political environment for Democrats, and it’s an environment that’s only likely to get better. Democratic candidates fare poorly when their party fares poorly, and the party may be about to run into some welcome successes: The Census Bureau’s coming hiring blitz will knock half a point off the unemployment rate, yesterday’s bipartisan White House meeting suggests the Kerry-Graham clean energy bill is inching towards passage, and health care reform is in the endgame. February groundhogs are not October pumpkins, so it makes sense that February’s political messes won’t be October’s messes.