Poll: Voters leaning Republican in 2014 battleground races

A new poll conducted for Politico by SocialSphere Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts contains bad news for Democrats. Surveying voters in 16 states with competitive Senate races and dozens of congressional districts that may also be in play (according to the University of Virginia Center for Politics), Politico found that 43 percent intend to vote for the Republican Senate candidate, while only 36 percent intend to vote for the Democrat. The split was similar in House races where respondents favored the Republican by 39-30.

The 16 states polled were Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Virginia and West Virginia. Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia are considered near certain pickups for Republicans.

This leaves 13 competitive states, with the Republicans needing to pickup three more seats, net. Republican hold two of the 13 seats (Georgia and Kentucky). If the Democrats win one of these two races — no easy task for them, considering how conservative both states are — Republicans would need to pick up four seats in the remaining 11 competitive races.

Assuming that voter sentiment in these 11 states — Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Virginia — is split about evenly, the chances of Republicans winning four of these races, and thereby taking control of the Senate, seem good, though certainly not overwhelming, at this point.

Digging deeper into the poll, we find, unsurprisingly, that President Obama and Obamacare are serious drags for Democrats. Obama’s approval rating among respondents is well underwater at 40-59.

As for Obamacare, only 16 percent favor keeping the law as it is. 36 percent favor modification. 48 percent favor outright repeal. 89 percent of voters consider the issue important in deciding how they will vote and 49 percent consider it very important.

The pro-amnesty crowd will emphasize that, by a margin of 71-28, those surveyed favor “comprehensive immigration reform.” But the result is meaningless because respondents weren’t asked whether they favor legalizing illegal immigrants, much less whether they favor allowing them to become citizens. Nearly every conservative I know favors some form of comprehensive immigration reform. For example, I support improved enforcement, a radical change in the way we decide who can immigrate to this country legally, plus other adjustments.

The sample that turned up in Politico’s poll contained more Republicans than Democrats, by a margin of 39-34. This doesn’t seem out of whack given the states and congressional districts sampled (more analysis would be required to state this with total conviction, though).

If we factor out Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia (as I did above), I would assume (as I did above) that something closer to an even party line split is realistic for the remaining 13 states. In the last presidential election, where Democratic turnout was stronger than it’s likely to be in 2014, Georgia, Kentucky, Alaska, Arkansas, and Louisiana were fairly solidly Republican; Michigan, Minnesota, and Oregon were solidly Democrat; and Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Virginia, and North Carolina were battleground states (though the Dems won four of the five).

So, again, Republican chances of taking the Senate seem good at this point, but certainly not overwhelming. As for the House, the Politico poll confirms that the Democrats have very little chance of recapturing it, and will probably lose seats.

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