Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

Will GOP Retirements Boost Democrats' Chances in 2010?

Posted Jan 05, 2010 at 1:38 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

A spate of GOP retirements in the US House of Representatves may well stem any gains made by the GOP this November. While conventional wisdom foresees formidable GOP gains in this House this November, the spate of recent Republican retirements--now at a whopping 14--representatives, "could curtail the expected GOP gains in the House in November," according to an analysis by Chris Cillizza in the Washington Post: "While much of the focus for the last month (or so) has been on Democrats' retirement problems -- set off by a quartet of announcements in swing and Republican-leaning districts over the last month -- a broad look at the open seat playing field suggests more parity in terms of the two parties' opportunities and vulnerabilities than conventional wisdom suggests."

Republicans Forging Ahead On Generic Ballot

Posted Dec 28, 2009 at 2:50 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to a new Rasmussen Reports survey, Republican candidates now lead Democrats by +8% in the latest "generic congressional ballot. The national telephone survey reported that 44% would vote for their district's Republican candidate; 36% percent would choose the Democratic.


Support For Democratic Party Declines: A Harbinger of Midterm Loses?

Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:32 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, "less than a year after Inauguration Day, support for the Democratic Party continues to slump, amid a difficult economy and a wave of public discontent" . . . . For the first time, less than half of Americans [47%] approved of the job President Barack Obama was doing, marking a steeper first-year fall for this president than his recent predecessors. Also for the first time this year, the electorate was split when asked which party it wanted to see in charge after the 2010 elections. For months, a clear plurality favored Democratic control."Also telling in the survey: the president negative number is nearly the same as his positive rating: 46%. Do these numbers presage a significant loss of Democratic seats in next year's congressional elections. It's still early, but this kind of erosion has, in the past, led to a significant loss of seats in the midterm.

PA US Senate 2010: A Dead Heat

Posted Dec 21, 2009 at 1:23 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

A just released Quinnipiac University survey reports that if the 2010 US Senate Election in PA were held today, incumbent Senator Arlen Specter (D) and former Rep. Pat Toomey would be in a dead heat, tied at 44 percent. In the Democratic primary, Specter is surprisingly strong, boasting a 20 point lead over Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), 50 percent to 30 percent, according to the poll in the Democratic primary scheduled for April 2010.

MA US Senate: Martha Coakley Wins Democratic Nomination

Posted Dec 08, 2009 at 1:15 PM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to the Associated Press, MA Attorney General "Martha M. Coakley [is] projected to win Tuesday's primary election in the race for the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy's storied seat . . . She [is] projected to face State Senator Scott Brown, a Republican, on Jan. 19. Massachusetts has not sent a Republican to the Senate in 37 years, so Ms. Coakley has the stronger chance of laying claim to the seat."

MA US Senate: Does Today's VERY Low Turnout Hurt Coakley

Posted Dec 08, 2009 at 11:00 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

Talking Points Memo reports that the turnout in today's Democratic primary in the Massachusetts' US Senate race is exceedingly low: "As of 3 p.m. ET, only 35,000 people had voted in Boston, less than 10% of the city's registered voters. The Boston Herald speculates that the lower turnout could possibly benefit Rep. Mike Capuano, who is widely seen as the underdog against state Attorney General Martha Coakley. For what it's worth, Capuano's home town of Somerville, where he served as mayor before his election to Congress in 1988, is having a relatively higher turnout -- at 1 p.m., it was a whopping 12.5 percent."

MA US Senate: Martha Coakley Ahead, But By How Much?

Posted Dec 08, 2009 at 1:38 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to the Boston Phoenix, polls on today's Democratic primary for the US Senate in Massachusetts are contradictory: The "internal polls of different candidates in the US Senate race seemed to be saying very different things. . . . Tom Kiley, pollster for Michael Capuano, and Celinda Lake, pollster for Martha Coakley, both confirmed for me today what I reported yesterday. Kiley says his poll, taken Sunday and Monday of this week, has Coakley around 35%, and Capuano 7 points behind, in the high 20s. Lake says her poll, taken Sunday through Tuesday, has Coakley at 41%, and Capuano at 20%. (Both have Pagliuca roughly around 10%-12% and falling slightly; Khazei around 7-10% and rising slightly; and some 15%-20% undecided.)  So one poll has a 7 point lead, and the other has a 21 point lead. That's an enormous discrepancy . . . Lake also insists that she is seeing absolutely no trending decline in Coakley's support, whereas Kiley says Coakley's support has dropped slowly but steadily"


"Enthusiasm Gap": Will it Hurt The Democrats In 2010?

Posted Dec 02, 2009 at 1:20 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

A new Research 2000/Daily Kos survey reports a striking "enthusiasm gap" in the intention of Democrats and Republicans to voter in next year's congressional election: "The results were, to put it mildly, shocking:

Voter Intensity: Definitely + Probably Voting/Not Likely + Not Voting

Republican Voters: 81/14
Independent Voters: 65/23

Two in five Democratic voters either consider themselves unlikely to vote at this point in time, or have already made the firm decision to remove themselves from the 2010 electorate pool. Indeed, Democrats were three times more likely to say that they will "definitely not vote" in 2010 than are Republicans."

Will this gap adversely effect the 2010 midterms?  PollTrack beliebes that while this is not a good sign for Democrats, it's still too early to tell. Stay tuned.

MA US Senate: Will New Spate Of Endorsements Shake Up Race

Posted Dec 01, 2009 at 1:13 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

Political Wire wonders whether a new spate of political endorsements could slice into Attorney General Martha Coakley's lead in the Democratic primary to fill the US Senate seat vacated by the late-Edward Kennedy: "In a move that could shake up a fairly sleepy race, former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis endorsed Rep. Michael Capuano for the senatorial seat left open by the death of Ted Kennedy . . .In the last week, Capuano has also been endorsed by Nancy Pelosi and Diane Patrick, Gov. Deval Patrick's wife. With just over a week to go until the Democratic primary, all polls have shown Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) with double-digit leads over Capuano, who polls second, and political newcomers Alan Khazei (D) and Stephen Pagliuca (D) . . . Interestingly, the Boston Globe endorsed Khazei this morning."

Generic Congressional Ballot: Who's Really Ahead?

Posted Nov 12, 2009 at 1:10 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

With the full House up for election next year, who's really ahead in terms of political support. The Congressional Generic ballot, which measures general support for the two major parties in these races, offers a snapshot of voter sentiment. Yet, given dramatic differences in likely voter models, three major polling organizations come out with startlingly different results. For the first time in months, for example, Republicans have moved ahead of Democrats by 48% to 44% among registered voters in the latest update on Gallup's generic congressional ballot for the 2010 House elections, after trailing by six points in July and two points last month. Two other pollsters also weigh in, with contradictory results:

  CNN/Opinion Research Democrats 50, Republicans 44 Democrats +6
Rasmussen Reports Democrats 38, Republicans 42


Republicans +4


NY-23: Political Realigniment or Fluke?

Posted Nov 09, 2009 at 1:04 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

Last Tuesday's special election in New York's 23rd congressional district was dramatic in in terms of its result: no Democrat has held this seat in over a century. So, does the result suggest a permanent realignment or a fluke in the district? The answer is unclear at this point. As Stuart Rothenberg suggests, a divided Republican party--fraught with in-fighting--may well have handed the seat to the Democrat in a largely GOP district: "Bill Owens' victory in New York's 23rd was the good news for Democrats this week and continued the party's winning streak in competitive House special elections. But the dynamic that helped Owens win- including a divided Republican Party- can't be ignored and aren't likely to be replicated again. For now, his reelection next year is a pure toss-up." Still, PollTrack wonders if the party's internal squabbles will cause it to lose more seats next year, as ultra-conservative attempts to knock off Republican moderates in the primaries results in unelectable GOP contenders in the general election.

Democrats Appear To Recover in Ohio 2010

Posted Sep 17, 2009 at 1:10 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

While the Democratic brand has taken a bit of a beating in Ohio recently--the President's approval rating in the state is lower than the national average--the party's candidates for Senator in 2010 seem to have picked up steam: A new Quinnipiac poll reports a improvement for Democrats since their lackluster numbers this summer. The respective primaries of the two parties are as follows: [1] Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate: Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher has a 26% to 17% lead over Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D), with 55% still undecided. [2] In the GOP primary, former Rep. Rob Portman (R) leads businessman Tom Ganley (R), 27% to 9%, with 61% still undecided. In the general election, Democrat Fisher tops Portman, 42% to 31%, and beats Ganley 41% to 29%. Brunner tops Portman, 39% to 34%, and beats Ganley 39% to 31%.

CQ Politics Analysis: Democrats Have Lock On 2010 Congressional Elections

Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 2:35 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to an analysis by CQ Politics, the Democratic Party looks strong in the 2010 Congressional elections: "Democrats have a virtual lock on 198 seats for November 2010, and in another 31 districts the opportunities for a GOP upset are tenuous at best. Put those groups together and you have 229, well above the 218-seat majority threshold. In addition, one district that’s in Republican hands at the moment, which covers most of New Orleans, is expected to return to its Democratic roots next fall." Still, CQ Politics concludes that "Yet House election history alone gives the Republicans reason to hope for better results after the back-to-back setbacks of 2006 and 2008 thrust them deeply into the minority. The 2010 elections for the House will be the first since Barack Obama was elected president. With very rare exceptions over many decades, the party holding the White House has lost seats in the first such midterm election."

Not Even Close: Creigh Deeds Wins VA Democratic Gubernatorial Primary

Posted Jun 09, 2009 at 4:36 PM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

It's not even Close. Creigh deeds wins the Virginia Democratic gubernatorial primary by a wide margin. Here is the result from the VA Board of Elections, with nearly all of the vote counted:


Last Reported: Jun 9 2009 10:31PM EST

R. Creigh Deeds
159,324 49.73% Precincts Reporting:
    2,499 of 2,504 (99.80%)

Voter Turnout:
    320,369 of 4,959,506 active voters (6.459%)
    320,369 of 5,071,226 total voters (6.317%)
Votes by County/City

Votes by District

Terry R. McAuliffe
84,640 26.41%

Brian J. Moran
76,405 23.84%

Tunrnout Low In VA Democratic Gubernatorial Primary

Posted Jun 09, 2009 at 5:38 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

The New York Times reports that voter turnout appears to be very low in Virginia in today's Democratic gubernatorial primary: "Democratic voters in Virginia trickled to the polls Tuesday, as heavy morning rains dampened what was already expected to be a low turnout for the close of an unusually contentious, expensive and closely-watched primary for governor. The race is one of two elections for governor this year — the other is in New Jersey — and both national parties are strongly involved. Democrats hope to continue their party’s recent winning streak in this historically conservative state . . . Polling stations in McLean, Arlington and Alexandria looked more like ghost towns as poll workers outnumbered voters three to one during what was supposed to be the before-work rush around 8 a.m." With turnout expected at no greater than 10%, PollTrack suggests that the outcome of the election could be skewed in favor of the most well-organized candidate. Pre-election polls showed Creigh Deeds surging ahead, picking up the lion's share of undecided voters.

2009 Virginia Governor's Race: May Be Tough For Democrats Come November

Posted Jun 09, 2009 at 1:54 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

Whoever wins today's primary for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Virginia, one senior politician's on-the-ground oberservation about the mood of voters in the state should give Democrats reason to be concerned: Democrat Douglas Wilder, who became the country's first African-American governor when Virginians elected him in 1989, "thinks that no matter who emerges victorious from the state's Democratic gubernatorial primary on Tuesday, the party will find it awfully tough to defeat Republican candidate Bob McDonnell in November. Wilder said there's something in the air' that makes him think Virginia voters aren't prepared to elect a Democrat to the governorship for the third straight time. Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have won the last two gubernatorial elections in the commonwealth. Before that, Republicans won two consecutive victories with George Allen and Jim Gilmore. 'Each time around, voters say, "Wait a minute, no one's supposed to be here forever," and I think Virginians like to see that degree of balance,' Wilder said in an interview with CNN. 'They like to mix it up. I think the guy who can ride that horse to show some grasp of the independent voter, rather than just the Republican or Democratic voter, will be successful. That's key.'"

Another Poll Reports Deeds Pulling Ahead in VA Democratic Primary

Posted Jun 08, 2009 at 4:44 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

A poll from one of the most accurate pollsters in the 2008 national cycle, SurveyUSA, also reports that Creigh Deeds is pulling away in Virginia's Democratic primary for Governor: "24 hours until votes are counted in the Democratic Primary for Governor of Virginia, momentum shifts to Deeds . . . In 4 identical SurveyUSA tracking polls, Deeds' support has gone from 22% to 26% to 29% to today 42%. Deeds finishes ahead of Terry McAuliffe, whose support has declined in each of the 4 tracking polls and who ends at 30%. Brian Moran, who has treaded water in 4 tracking polls, finishes 3rd, at 21%."

Deeds Take Significant Lead In VA Democratic Gubernatorial Primary

Posted Jun 08, 2009 at 2:29 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to a Public Policy Polling survey released late yesterday, Democrat Creigh Deeds has taken a healthy lead in Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial primary. The poll also shows the formerly large bloc of undecided voters breaking for Deeds: "Two days before the election Creigh Deeds has opened up a commanding lead in the Democratic primary for Governor of Virginia. Deeds is now at 40%, followed by Terry McAuliffe at 26% and Brian Moran at 24%. In the last week Deeds has gained 13 points while McAuliffe and Moran have each advanced by just two. Deeds now leads in every region of the state except Hampton Roads, including a 38-35 lead over Moran in northern Virginia, where just two and a half weeks ago Deeds was polling at only 11%. Deeds is up over 50% in the parts of the state outside Washington DC/Richmond/Hampton Roads."

VA Governor: Another Poll Shows Deeds In The Lead

Posted Jun 05, 2009 at 6:13 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

Another poll, this time from Suffolk University,  shows a close race in VA's Democratic primary for Governor: "Virginia voters give Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds (29%) a slight lead over opponents Terry McAuliffe (26%), and Brian Moran (23%), leading up to the June 9 Primary, with a significant 22% still undecided.  The poll shows that all three candidates are within the statistical margin of error and any one of them could ultimately emerge as the Democrat to face Republican Bob McDonnell in November.

Daily Kos/Research 2000: VA Democratic Governor's Primary Too Close To Call

Posted Jun 05, 2009 at 2:05 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

A new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll reports two key observations in next week's race for the Democratic nomination for Governor in Virginia: Former leader Terry McAuliffe has fallen behind the pack, and that the numbers all fall well within the poll's margin of error. The uphot: the race is too close to call. Here are the numbers: state Sen. Creigh Deeds at 30%, former state Rep. Brian Moran at 27%, and former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry mcAuliffe at 26%.

Survey USA: VA Democratic Gubernatorial Primary Too Close To Call

Posted Jun 04, 2009 at 2:07 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to a new poll by Survey USA, one of the most accurate and reliable polsters of the 2008 cycle, next week's Democratic gubenatorial primary in Virginia is too close to call. And a number of signs point to the increasing volatility of a race that former Democratic party chairman Terry McAuliffe had appeared to be walking away with: 6 days till Virginia voters choose the Democratic nominee for Governor, there is unusual volatility in SurveyUSA's tracking graphs, reflected in the newest data gathered for WJLA-TV Washington DC and WDBJ-TV Roanoke. Overall, former Democratic National Committee chair Terry McAuliffe remains on top today with 35%, state senator Creigh Deeds has 29%, former state delegate Brian Moran 26%. But, enough is happening below the surface to add considerable drama to Tuesday's outcome. Half of Survey USA likely voters say they may yet change their mind. Among voters who say their mind is made up, Deeds leads, with McAuliffe and Moran a half-dozen points back. Where is the volatility? Men are breaking for Moran."

Is Terry McAuliffe Loosing Steam in VA Democratic Gubernatorial Primary?

Posted Jun 03, 2009 at 2:22 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

Is Terry McAuliffe in trouble in his bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Virginia. A new survey suggests that the former DNC head may not be as far ahead as some recent polls have suggested: The SurveyUSA poll reports that in four Northern Virginia counties -- Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun and Price William -- challenger Brian Moran (D) "remains a force" with just one week until voters head to the polls. Moran leads with 43% in the DC suburbs, followed by McAuliffe (D) at 27% and Creigh Deeds (D) at 20%. PollTrack suggests that since this region makes more than a quarter of the state's likely Democratic voters--and often has very high turnout--the race may be far from over for Moran. Another survey actually reports that McAuliffe is no longer the presumptive leader: Public Policy Polling reports that Creigh Deeds now leads at 27%, followed by Terry McAuliffe at 24%, and Brian Moran at 22%.
But the race remains very close, since these numbers are well within the poll's margin of error. The PPP survey suggest that it is Deeds who might have the momentum: Over the last month Deeds has gone from 14% to 27% while McAuliffe has dropped from 30% to 24% and Moran has pretty much stayed in place.

Public Policy Polling: US Senator Approval Ratings

Posted May 26, 2009 at 2:06 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

A very interesting survey from Public Policy Polling takes stock of the approval ratings of a number of US Senators. The highest approval rating of the lot: Democrat Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota. The lowest: embattled Illinois Democratic Roland Burris, who replace Barack Obama. Here is the list:



Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)


Tom Coburn (R-OK)


Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)


Tom Carper (D-DE)


Kit Bond (R-MO)


Mark Pryor (D-AR)


John McCain (R-AZ)


James Inhofe (R-OK)


Dick Durbin (D-IL)


Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)


Jim Webb (D-VA)


Mitch McConnell (R-KY)


Bill Nelson (D-FL)


Mark Udall (D-CO)


Richard Burr (R-NC)


Ted Kaufman (D-DE)


Michael Bennet (D-CO)


Kay Hagan (D-NC)


Johnny Isakson (R-GA)


George Voinovich (R-OH)


Jim Bunning (R-KY)


Mel Martinez (R-FL)


Roland Burris (D-IL)


Republican Retirements In House Come From Strong GOP Districts

Posted May 05, 2009 at 11:34 PM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

In what can be interpreted as a bit a good news for the Republican Party, CQ Politics reports that while "the partisan skew of the early 2010 open seats might be bad news for the GOP . . . there is some salve for the GOP, though, in its early 2010 cycle open-seat situation. The districts that are being left open by Republican retirees or seekers of other offices are reliably Republican-leaning . . . the nine open Republican districts all voted for McCain and gave him a robust average of 61 percent of the vote." The news is not exactly bad for Democrats: "As for the four Democrats who are not seeking re-election to the House -- all are running for either governor or senator in their home states -- Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama won all of their districts with an average of 71 percent of the vote"


Will GOP Retirements Sink Republican's House Chances In 2010

Posted Apr 16, 2009 at 2:10 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

A Flood of retiring US House members may spell trouble for the Republican Party. According to Stuart Rothenberg, "House retirements are running a bit ahead of schedule this cycle, at least compared with where they stood in 2005 and 2007. And if they even approach the same numbers as in the past two election cycles, retirements could play a significant part in the eventual 2010 House battleground." Significantly, more Republicans are retiring than Democrats, leading Rothenberg to wonder about GOP prospects in 2010: "The last time more Democrats than Republicans retired was in 1998, when 17 Democrats and 16 Republicans did not seek re-election... Over the past five elections, 106 Republican House Members have not sought re- election, while only 49 Democrats have walked away from their seats -- a significant difference."

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Ohio US Senate: Democrats Look Good For 2010

Posted Mar 23, 2009 at 2:15 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to a new Quinnipiac University survey, the race for the Democratic nomination to seek the Ohio seat of retiring Republican Sen. George Voinovich is "a wide-open affair" while, on the GOP side, former Rep. Rob Portman holds a significant lead: "In general election match-ups, the Democrats come out ahead of the Republicans." For the Democrats, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher leads at 18%, followed by Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner at 14% and Rep. Tim Ryan at 12%. As for the Republicans, Portman leads State Auditor Mary Taylor 31% to 14% with 52% undecided. The general election match-ups: Fisher leads Portman 41% to 33% with 24% undecided and Taylor by 41% to 31% with 25% undecided. Brunner bests Portman 39% to 34% with 25% undecided and Taylor by 38% to 31% with 28% undecided.

Democrats Improve On Congressional Generic Ballot

Posted Feb 27, 2009 at 1:04 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

Things have improved a bit for Democrats in their congressional prospects for 2010: "Democrats have pulled slightly further ahead this week in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot.Rasmussen Reports national telephone surveys found that 41% of voters said they would vote for their district’s Democratic candidate while 37% said they would choose the Republica." 

More US Senate Loses For Republicans in 2010?

Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 5:02 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

The inimitable Charlie Cook speculates that Republicans may once again be in for a rough ride in contest for US Senate seats in 2010. "If the playing field is level and no national dynamics are in play," Cook concludes, "Democrats should pick up a few more seats, but it's hard to think that national dynamics won't be at work, one way or another. New presidents often make missteps, and their honeymoons can end quickly. If that happens this time, a few of the vulnerable Republican seats would likely become less so, and a few of the Democratic seats that appear relatively safe would come into play." Yet, Cook wonders if downturn in enthusiasm for the Republican brand will continue to haunt the party in two years:
"If Republicans are still 8 or 9 points behind in party affiliation, if their 'brand' hasn't been repaired, and if they are still facing a competence gap -- an attribute they used to own -- this could be yet another very painful cycle for them."