Memo: The Senate is in play

TO:         Interested Parties

FROM:   Steven Law

President and CEO, American Crossroads

DATE:    February 7, 2014

RE:          New Senate Polls

This morning, American Crossroads released eight polls by Harper Polling, looking at the status of competitive U.S. Senate races.

The findings? Control of the U.S. Senate is indisputably up for grabs.

Virtually all Democrat incumbents in red states and purple states are in trouble – either down or tied in head-to-head contests with their likely GOP opponents, or upside down in approval ratings:

  • In Arkansas, Republican Tom Cotton leads incumbent Democrat Sen. Mark Pryor 42-36. Pryor’s job approval is upside-down, with 37% approving and 40% disapproving of the way he is handling his job as senator.
  • In Alaska, Democrat Sen. Mark Begich trails both major GOP candidates, Mead Treadwell and Dan Sullivan, by six points (47-41). Begich is also upside-down, with 47% disapproving of his job as senator, and 41% approving.
  • In Montana, GOP Rep. Steve Daines leads Democrat Lt. Gov. John Walsh by 14 points (43-29) – and leads former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger by 43-32%.
  • Louisiana voters do not like Mary Landrieu. 51% disapprove of the way she is handling her job, with only 40% favorable. AMAZINGLY, while she generates 42% support on the initial ballot in Louisiana (Louisiana has an open initial ballot where if no one gains 50% support, a two-candidate ballot follows) she only moves to 44% in a head-to-head against likely GOP candidate, Rep. Bill Cassidy. Cassidy leads a head to head 45-44, with 11% not sure. (Fully 46 percent of voters don’t have an opinion on Cassidy.)
  • In Michigan, Republican Terri Lynn Land leads Democrat Rep. Gary Peters 42-37 – while President Obama is underwater in his approval rating 38%-52%.
  • In North Carolina, Democrat Kay Hagan is viewed by 37% favorably and 49% unfavorably. She ties likely GOP candidate Thom Tillis 44-44.
  • Finally, in New Hampshire, Democrat Sen. Jean Shaheen leads former Sen. Scott Brown 40-35% in a hypothetical matchup – even as she is one of the few democratic incumbents with a net positive impression among her voters. Dragging her down to 40 in the head-to-head? The 22% net disapproval for President Obama (57-35) and a staggering 28% disapproval of the Obamacare law, with 60% disapproving of it and only 32% approving of the law.

And even presumed Democratic nominees find themselves in stiff competition with other Democrats for the nomination.

  • In a potential Democratic primary in Montana, current Lt. Gov. John Walsh is tied with former Lt. Governor John Bohlinger 23-23. 

Republicans need to pick up six seats to gain the majority in the U.S. Senate, and a path to victory is clearly there. Incumbent democrats are weak across the board, and the crop of Republicans is stronger than it has been in a decade. Obamacare, designed to help float all boats, has instead become a millstone around the neck of every Democrat incumbent. And the national atmosphere is weakening for Democrats each day.