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Senate Dem 54   GOP 44   Ties 1
House Dem 224   GOP 181   Ties 30

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strong Dem Strong Dem (48)
weak Dem Weak Dem (3)
barely Dem Barely Dem (3)
tied Exactly tied (1)
barely GOP Barely GOP (2)
weak GOP Weak GOP (4)
strong GOP Strong GOP (38)
strong Ind Strong Ind (0)
weak Ind Weak Ind (0)
barely Ind Barely Ind (0)
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Senate polls today: AR CA IN LA MO PA UT WV RSS
Dem pickups: (None) GOP pickups: AR IN ND PA PDA

PW logo Palin Looks Like a Candidate in New Video Paladino Within Striking Distance of Cuomo
Toomey Keeps Lead in Pennsylvania Book Portrays White House Torn Over Afghanistan
Rahm Ahead in Internal Polling Murkowski Campaign Misspells its Candidate's Name

News from the Votemaster            

Democrats and Republicans Nearly Tied on Generic Ballot     Permalink

A new Gallup poll shows that registered voters prefer the Democrats to the Republicans 46% to 45%, a statistically insignificant difference. The gap has been as large as 10% in favor of the Republicans in the past month. But the devil is in the details. This was a poll of registered voters, not of likely voters. If half the voters prefer the Republicans and half prefer the Democrats but the Republicans all go vote and many of the Democrats stay home, the Republicans will win. Although Gallup didn't use a likely voter screen, it did ask people if they were enthusiastic about voting and 47% of the Republicans said they were vs. only 28% of the Democrats. That's a big gap.

Tea Parties Transitioning into Get Out the Vote Operations     Permalink

The tea party movement, originally a loose confederation of angry (white) voters, is becoming better organized and starting to focus on a get-out-the-vote operation to make sure the candidates it endorsed win in November. The Tea Party Patriots are going to announce a 7-figure donation to the effort today. No indication is given where these millions of dollars are coming from, but a good bet is shadowy billionaires such as the Koch brothers. If this operation succeeds and many of the 10 tea party candidates running for the Senate and dozens running for the House win, it will change the face of Congress and cause immense problems for both parties come January when campaigning time is over and governing time starts.

Polling the Alaska Senate Race Will Be Tough     Permalink

How do you poll a race when the only candidate most of the voters have ever heard of isn't even on the ballot? That is the situation in the Alaska Senate race now that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has decided to run as a write-in. The usual question on an automated poll: "Press 1 if you are going to vote for the Republican Joe Miller and press 2 if you are going to vote for the Democrat Scott McAdams" kind of misses the mark here. Adding a third choice: "Press 3 if you are going to write in Lisa Murkowski" gives her far too much attention and will certainly over represent her following. It's going to be tough. Pollster Mark Blumenthal discusses the issue.

Another facet of this campaign that almost no one has brought up is what happens if Murkowski wins? No doubt Mitch McConnell will give her a big hug and say: "You know, those last 2 months when we were trashing you every day and calling you a skunk? We didn't mean it of course." And our stripping you of your leadership position back in September? My mistake. You can have it back now. And what is she going to do? Give him a big kiss and say "We'll just let bygones by bygones?" Maybe. Maybe not. If the NRSC really goes after her and she wins despite their best efforts, it might occur to her to caucus with the Democrats, just to spite the Republicans. On the whole, she's probably not much more conservative than Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and she's really going to hate NRSC chairman John Cornyn's guts after he goes all out to defeat her. Conservatives are already calling her a sore loser. The situation is somewhat like Joe Lieberman's independent run in Connecticut in 2006 except that the DSCC didn't really gun for him. They just kind of pulled out of Connecticut figuring they could live with either Lieberman or the official Democrat, Ned Lamont. If the NRSC pulls out of Alaska, Sarah Palin and the tea partiers will go bonkers. Cornyn can't afford that.

However, the chances of Murkowski winning are low. Only once in Senate history has a write-in candidate won, Strom Thurmond in 1954. But the danger the Republicans see is her splitting the Republican vote and letting Sitka mayor Scott McAdams (D) squeak by with under 40% of the vote (Obama got 38% in 2008). Alaska does not have runoffs. It's first past the post: the person with the most votes wins.

Rundown of the Competitive Gubernatorial Races in the West     Permalink

Yesterday we looked at the most competitive contests for the governors' mansions east of the Mississippi River. Below are brief descriptions of the ones in the West. The photos are hyperlinked to the candidates' Websites. Their names are hyperlinked to their Wikipedia articles. The party designations are hyperlinked to the corresponding state party Website.


Incumbent Challenge Notes
Jan Brewer

Terry Goddard

Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) got her job when term-limited Gov. Janet Napolitano (D-AZ) took a job in the cabinet. Since she wasn't elected, she may be vulnerable. The Democratic candidate is Attorney General Terry Goddard. Since the most recent person to be elected governor was a Democrat in an otherwise somewhat Republican state, this race has to be considered a tossup at this point. However, Brewer is a big supporter of the controversial Arizona law requiring the police to check the papers of anyone they suspect of of being an illegal immigrant, and that position, while probably unconstitutional, is quite popular in Arizona and may pull her over the finish line.


Challenger Challenger Notes
Meg Whitman

Jerry Brown

Open seat (R). Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) is term limited so the biggest prize of all in terms of possibilities to gerrymander House districts is up for grabs. The Democrats nominated former governor Jerry Brown (D) while the Republicans nominated former eBay CEO and billionaire Meg Whitman (R), who has already spent over $120 million of her own money on the race. Despite being a very blue state, California has had many Republican governors. Furthermore, Brown is an extremely erratic campaigner. He might even decide to go off to an ashram to meditate instead of campaigning this Fall. Whitman has a real shot at it, especially if she continues to outspend Brown 10 to 1 in this vast state.


Incumbent Challenger Notes
Chet Culver

Terry Brandstad

Gov. Chet Culver (D-IA) is a moderate Democrat in a moderately Democratic state. However, his popularity is dropping and he is vulnerable. The Republican is former four-term governor Terry Branstad (R) looking for an encore. Since Branstad is a proven vote getter, albeit a decade ago, he will be a tough competitor.


Challender Challenger Notes
Tom Emmer

Mark Dayton

Open seat (R). When some people started talking about Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) as a possible presidential nominee in 2012 he got bitten by the bug and decided not to run for a third term in 2010 to concentrate on his presidential run. Former senator Mark Dayton (D) decided to get back into politics and won the DFL (Democratic) primary. State representative Tom Emmer (R) won the Republican primary. The race is clouded by the presence of a third-party candidate, Tom Horner. It could be close.

New Mexico

Challenger Challenger Notes
Diane Denish

Susana Martinez

Open seat (D). Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) is term limited. Lt. Gov Diane Denish (D-NM) is runing for the Democrats. What about the Republicans? Well, Obama carried the state in a landslide, the Democrats control both Senate seats, all three House seats, all statewide offices, and both chambers of the state legislature (by nearly 2 to 1 margins). The Republicans control nothing, so the best they could come up with is the Dona Ana County District Attorney, Susana Martinez. With both candidates female, New Mexico is sure to get its first woman governor. Martinez would be the first Latina, but the current governor is a Latino, so that is less of a breakthrough. It is likely to be a close race.


Challenger Challenger Notes
John Kitzhaber

Chris Dudley

Open seat (D). Term-limited Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D-OR) won't be on the ballot in 2010. The Democrats nominated John Kitzhaber, who already served two terms as governor, from 1995 to 2003. The Republican nominee is Chris Dudley, a former professional basketball player making his first run for public office. It should be an interest race in an anti-incumbent year: a candidate who is the ultimate insider (although he is not responsible for the current mess) vs. the ultimate outsider. Kitzhaber will harp on the idea that being governor is a tough job and he knows how to do it whereas Dudley will attack Kitzhaber for being just another politician. At this point it is a tossup.


Incumbent Challenger Notes
Rick Perry

Bill White

The fight to unseat Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), the longest serving governor in Texas history, is going to be a humdinger. Perry first had to beat back a primary challenger, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, which he did handily. Now he has to face off against the popular former mayor of Houston, Bill White (D). White is the first Democrat in years with a decent shot of being elected governor because the state's growing Latino population is highly Democratic and Perry has made a lot of enemies during his tenure.

Today's Polls: AR CA IN LA MO PA UT WV MI-15 NY-24 PA-15 WA-09     Permalink

New Senate Polls

State Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct Ind. I-pct Start End Pollster
Arkansas Blanche Lincoln* 29% John Boozman 56%     Sep 16 Sep 16 Hendrix College
California Barbara Boxer* 50% Carly Fiorina 42%     Sep 14 Sep 16 PPP
Indiana Brad Ellsworth 34% Dan Coats 50%     Sep 16 Sep 16 Rasmussen
Louisiana Charlie Melancon 34% David Vitter* 52%     Sep 19 Sep 19 Magellan Strategies
Missouri Robin Carnahan 39% Roy Blunt 43%     Sep 14 Sep 18 Global Strategy
Pennsylvania Joe Sestak 36% Pat Toomey 40%     Sep 14 Sep 16 Critical Insights
Pennsylvania Joe Sestak 36% Pat Toomey 45%     Sep 15 Sep 16 Municipoll
Utah Sam Granato 24% Mike Lee 52%     Sep 07 Sep 13 Howey Gauge
Utah Sam Granato 25% Mike Lee 52%     Sep 07 Sep 13 Dan Jones
West Virginia Joe Manchin 50% John Raese 43%     Sep 19 Sep 19 Rasmussen

New House Polls

Cong. Distr. Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct I-pct Start End Pollster
MI-15 John Dingell* 49% Rob Steele 30%     Sep 15 Sep 16 Detroit News
NY-24 Mike Arcuri* 48% Richard Hanna 40%     Sep 13 Sep 15 Siena Coll.
PA-15 John Callahan 38% Charlie Dent* 49%     Sep 11 Sep 16 Muhlenberg Coll.
WA-09 Adam Smith* 49% Dick Muri 46%     Sep 14 Sep 16 SurveyUSA

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