Indeed, while today we are totally bereft of national polling, we do see new numbers in 35 individual races, which is a new record for the ole FTP diary series. Alas, most of the House polling is internal polls, so there has to be a modicum of guarded optimism with those polls.
The issue of internal polls actually became quite the debate in yesterday's comment section, so allow me to explain my semi-skepticism about them, as well as give you all the new numbers, after the jump.
So...out of the 35 individual races polled today, we see a total of eight House races polled only FOR the campaigns, or "internal polls" as we call them. I always place a caveat when a poll is sponsored by the campaigns, and I always encourage caution to be exercised with regard to their results.
A few folks took some exception to that fact, so allow me to explain myself. Campaign polls are taken with a fair amount of frequency. When you only see one in a campaign, or one in a month, it is a fair bet that there are others that you are NOT seeing. When a campaign can select the data that it presents to the general public, it is fair to be a bit skeptical that the poll you are seeing is a "true representation" of the race.
For example: I am polling a House race, and in a month I poll five times. Here are the outcomes: In four polls, my candidate is down narrowly, let's say between 4-10 points. In one of the five polls, my candidate is up three points. Given the standard margin of error, as well as the day-to-day vagaries of public opinion, this is certainly possible. However, if the poll with the 3-point lead is the only one I release, it gives the false impression that my candidate was ahead all along...which of course, he/she wasn't.
Do I think you can automatically knock some points off the sponsoring candidate in an internal poll? I do.
Do I think it is getting to be particularly telling that the NRCC and the Republican candidates are keeping their internals largely under wraps? I do.
That thoroughly discussed, on with the countdown (ah! My Casey Kasem moment....)
AK-01: Rep. Young (R) 43%, Benson (D) 34% [Dems]
CAVEAT--This is a Democratic poll, taken for the Benson campaign by Hays Research. This comes on the heels of an independent poll by Craciun Research showing Young up 56-35, which is closer than he is accustomed to. I am not ready to say that Young is in the first-tier of the target list, but these back-to-back polls certainly have my attention.
AZ-08: Giffords (D) 48%, Graf (R) 38% [Neutral]
This public poll by Zimmerman and Associates, finds the race in essentially the same place that it was when Zogby polled here about four weeks ago. The McCain endorsement of Graf helps him a little, but 75% of voters say it will not factor into their voting decision.
CA-GOV: Gov. Schwarzenegger (R) 55%, Angelides (D) 37% [Neutral]
SurveyUSA confirms the 18-point Schwarzenegger lead that was also cited yesterday by PPIC. The good news: Angelides is finally on the air with a halfway decent ad ripping some of Schwarzenegger's missteps in his first term. The bad news: The great ad comes about ten weeks too late for Angelides. His campaign committed the cardinal sin, it seems: they allowed his opponent to define himself, and they also allowed him to define Angelides.
CA-SEN: Sen. Feinstein (D) 59%, Mountjoy (R) 33% [Dems]
Some (small) salvation for California Democrats, as Senator Dianne Feinstein pulls ahead to her biggest lead of the campaign. At a 26-point lead, over a financially overmatched opponent, I think it is safe to call this one very, very over.
CT-02: Courtney (D) 46%, Rep. Simmons (R) 42% [Dems]
CAVEAT--This is a Democratic poll, taken for the DCCC by Grove Insight. This is the first of several DCCC internals released today, all of them showing Democratic challengers in the lead. Something about this dump of polls all at once by the DCCC arouses some skepticism in me. That whole "too good to be true" thing, I guess. Don't mind me, though...I get very dark in the week before an election. I am Toby in the West Wing during the re-election episode, trust me.
FL-GOV: Crist (R) 52%, Davis (D) 41% [GOP]
If this brand-new Rasmussen poll is to be believed, then the momentum of the Davis comeback seems to have abated somewhat. Time is running out on the Democratic nominee--he needs a game winning drive, and the clock is ticking.
FL-22: (2 polls) Klein (D) 44.5%, Rep. Shaw (R) 42% [Dems]
SEMI-CAVEAT: One of these two polls (which has Klein leading 48-42) is a Democratic poll, taken for the DCCC by Anzalone Liszt. The other poll, however, is by independent pollsters Insider Advantage, and it finds Shaw clinging to a one-point lead, well below the 50% incumbent safety threshold (42-41). This is a race that I truly believe has tightened up. If you don't believe it, explain the curious choice by Shaw to run an ad where he references...of all people...Bill Clinton. Plus, the word "independent" comes up more often in his campaign stuff than his own name, I believe.
FL-25: Calderin (D) 37%, Rep. Diaz-Balart (R) 33% [Dems]
CAVEAT--This is a Democratic poll, taken for the Calderin campaign by PolitiCall. Additional caveat...there is no way in Hell I believe this polling result. First of all, I have never heard of the pollster (which, to me, is something of a red flag). Second, well, let's be honest, the result strains credibility. It is pretty doubtful that Calderin's $33K war chest (as of 9/30) allowed him to raise the kind of profile in a district of over 600,000 people to take down a sitting Congressman.
GA-GOV: Gov. Perdue (R) 51%, Taylor (D) 34% [Neutral]
Taylor reduces the margin slightly, in the new Insider Advantage tracking. If he can get it within 12 points, I'll say it is a race. The libertarian has slid from 9 to 7 points here.
ME-GOV: Gov. Baldacci (D) 42%, Woodcock (R) 25% [Dems]
The new polling from local firm Critical Insights confirms two trends, neither of which are good news for the Republican challenger. Trend #1--Baldacci pulling a lead outside of the margin of error. Trend #2--Third party candidates pulling away a significant part of the anti-incumbent vote (third-party candidates get 18% of the vote in this poll.
ME-SEN: Sen. Snowe (R) 74%, Hay-Bright (D) 14% [GOP]
The most popular Senator in America this month according to the SUSA 50-state tracking polls, Snowe pulls out to a 60-point lead, according to Critical Insights.
ME-01: Rep. Allen (D) 62%, Curley (R) 18% [Dems]
Tom Allen, who may have his sights on the upper chamber and a challenge to Susan Collins in 2008, is en route to a major league rout of Republican state rep. Darlene Curley, according to the Critical Insights poll.
ME-02: Michaud (D) 62%, D'Amboise (R) 25% [GOP]
Critical Insights also polls this House district, and finds it to be a runaway as well. Why the [GOP] momentum tag? Because, believe it or not, this outcome is actually CLOSER than the last poll here, which had Michaud up by nearly 50 points.
MA-GOV: Patrick (D) 54%, Healey (R) 29% [Neutral]
This Boston Globe poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire, confirms that the scorched-earth campaign that brought Kerry Healey back from the political dead has now outstayed its welcome. Patrick is a strong favorite to claim the Massachusetts governorship for the Democrats. It has been a long time since a Democrat ran the MA state house.
MA-SEN: Sen. Kennedy (D) 66%, Chase (R) 25% [Dems]
Breaking news: the sun rose in the East. Also, water sustains humankind. Oh, and Ted Kennedy is going to be re-elected easily in Massachusetts. All phenomena that NO ONE could have seen coming.....
MI-GOV: Gov. Granholm (D) 48%, DeVos (R) 43% [Neutral]
Not quite enough of a trend to call it DeVos momentum yet, but he is trickling back towards competitiveness, according to this EPIC/MRA poll. One thing in Granholm's favor--DeVos' personal approval numbers are very low for this late in the campaign. Then again, Granholm is struggling on this measure as well.
MI-SEN: Sen. Stabenow (D) 50%, Bouchard (R) 38% [Neutral]
I keep hearing whispers from various learned people that the Republicans are not saying "die" in this Senate race yet. They are convinced that the "off on the wrong track" angst that afflicts this state can be foisted on the Democratic Party here. This EPIC/MRA poll does not show much evidence of that, as Stabenow retains a double digit edge.
MN-GOV: Hatch (D) 45%, Gov. Pawlenty (R) 44% [Neutral]
This Rasmussen poll comes with an interesting internal dynamic. The high number of undecideds would seem to lend itself to a strong number for the Independence candidate, Hutchinson. If he fades before Election Day (as third party candidates tend to do: see Penny, Tim), who would that help. My guess is Hatch, as in this year, the Democratic brand name is in better smell with Independent voters than the GOP brand name.
MN-SEN: Klobuchar (D) 53%, Kennedy (R) 39% [Neutral]
So now even Rasmussen, who had long been the sole pollster to give the Kennedy campaign some semblance of life, has Klobuchar leading in the teens. Kennedy's failure to launch, to me, is one of the biggest surprises of 2006. From when he beat David Minge in 2000, I thought this guy was a major statewide player. The numbers simply have not been there. Any Minnesota Kossacks care to explain??
MT-SEN: Tester (D) 51%, Sen. Burns (R) 48% [Neutral]
Rasmussen comes back into the state for the third time in two weeks, and finds the result essentially unchanged since last week. The good news for Democrats--with or without leaners factored in, Tester is over 50% of the vote. Burns is not yet dead, but he is not in a good position to win this at the last.
NV-GOV: Gibbons (R) 47%, Titus (D) 41% [Dems]
This Research 2000 poll, even though it shows movement in the direction of Dina Titus, surprises me a little bit. Given the "woman trouble" that Gibbons had in the last two weeks, I think it is very troubling for Silver State Dems that Gibbons' numbers did not implode. A small caveat--this poll was taken largely before the immigration story hit in mid-week.
NY-20: Gillibrand (D) 43%, Rep. Sweeney (R) 40% [Dems]
CAVEAT--This is a Democratic poll, taken for the DCCC by Grove Insight. I cannot get a read on this race. Republican internals shows this as a landslide, Democratic internals have it close, or even a slight Gillibrand lead, and the few public polls are all over the freaking place.
OH-GOV: Strickland (D) 58%, Blackwell (R) 36% [GOP]
Please note: The [GOP] momentum tag only exists because this poll from Rasmussen is not as one-sided as the SUSA polls from yesterday. They still paint an incredibly bleak picture of life for the GOP in Ohio this year.
OH-SEN: Brown (D) 54%, Sen. DeWine (R) 43% [GOP]
See OH-GOV. If GOPers want to take solace in the fact that their incumbent senator is down 11 points, instead of 20 points, then I suppose that is their prerogative. It is starting to become evident why the RNC cancelled their buys here, and it had nothing to do with DeWine being fine on his own financially.
OH-01: Cranley (D) 49%, Rep. Chabot (R) 40% [Dems]
CAVEAT--This is a Democratic poll, conducted for the DCCC by Grove Insight. This is one internal poll that I tend to believe somewhat. The statewide polls make it clear that the GOP brand name in Ohio is in major disrepair, and it only seems logical that the taint would extend to the House level.
PA-07: Sestak (D) 50%, Rep. Weldon (R) 43% [Dems]
CAVEAT--This is a Democratic poll, conducted for the DCCC by Benenson Strategies Group. Again, this is one I tend to believe. It does not have Sestak ahead by an unreasonable margin, and this is a race that many concede is an uphill battle for the GOP.
PA-08: Rep. Fitzpatrick (R) 48%, Murphy (D) 39% [GOP]
This new poll from Franklin and Marshall is disappointing, and it is also why I take those internals with a grain of salt. The most recent poll here was a Murphy internal, and it had Murphy leading by five. Now here comes an independent poll showing Fitzpatrick, who has worked hard at triangulating himself in this race, with a nine-point edge over one of the Democrats' top recruits.
RI-GOV: Gov. Carcieri (R) 49%, Fogarty (D) 35% [GOP]
I am beginning to think that this Rhode Island College poll is telling us that there is a trade-off afoot. Moderate GOPers and Independents are voting for Carcieri, so that they feel less partisan when they vote against Chafee. I could be full of crap, but it is an interesting trend that as Whitehouse's lead grows, so does Carcieri's.
RI-SEN: Whitehouse (D) 43%, Sen. Chafee (R) 33% [Dems]
Another Democratic Senate candidate leading by double-digits. Another GOP incumbent in the 30s. I think four seats is starting to become the base-line minimum for Democrats in this cycle for the US Senate.
SC-GOV: Gov. Sanford (R) 58%, Moore (D) 31% [GOP]
This poll, conducted by Clemson University, confirms an earlier Rasmussen poll that showed this race beginning to get away from the Democrats. Lest we accuse Clemson of GOP bias, there is this to consider....
SC-05: Rep. Spratt (D) 61%, Norman (R) 28% [Dems]
I am not sure I buy a 33-point edge for the Democrats in this once heavily-targeted race. That said, Clemson has Spratt leading this one, and handily.
TX-SEN: Sen. Hutchison (R) 60%, Radnofsky (D) 34% [GOP]
As topsy-turvy as the governor's race is in the Great State, the Senate race is starting to become very stable. Which is not good news for Radnofsky, who has run a first-class campaign that probably deserved a better result. Hutchison is just politically bullet-proof in the state of Texas.
VT-GOV: Gov. Douglas (R) 51%, Parker (D) 41% [Dems]
At the last, it appears that former Democratic state chairman Scudder Parker is turning this contest into a real race. This is a gubernatorial race on NO ONE'S target list, and yet, here it is.
VT-AL: Welch (D) 51%, Rainville (R) 41% [Dems]
This has to be a pretty disappointing week for the GOP in terms of their "targeted races". Polls this week showed Bean, Marshall, and Spratt up by wide margins. And now, Martha Rainville, who has run a top-notch bid for office but had the misfortune of being a Republican in Vermont in a bad year for that combination, founds herself down ten points with less than two weeks to go. It's not over yet, but it is getting there.
WV-02: Rep. Capito (R) 47%, Callaghan (D) 43% [Dems]
CAVEAT--This is a Democratic poll, taken for the West Virginia Democratic Party by a pollster yet to be determined. This just got diaried before I set up today, but I wanted to throw these numbers out there. I had wondered why Callaghan was so low on the priority list. Capito was held to 57% by an unfunded opponent in Republican 2004. I know Callaghan has not been a fundraising machine, but he had a good third quarter (nearly $200K), and the district is amenable. Maybe this will get him some late-breaking assistance.
...And that will wrap it up for the Friday edition of FTP. I'd love to engage in some campaign talk with you all this afternoon...but "it has been one of those days", and I have to get out to a football game tonight. So...I'll catch your comments tomorrow. Have a good night....