by Rod D. Martin
October 4, 2018
ANOTHER SENATE UPDATE: Yesterday I told you that North Dakota is now likely out of reach for Democrats, with Republican Kevin Cramer now beating incumbent Democrat Sen. Heidi Heitkamp by an incredible 12 points: 53% to 41%.
Generally speaking, if an incumbent is under 50%, they’re in serious trouble even if they’re leading. And generally speaking, if a challenger is above 50%, the incumbent is toast.
Now, two new big moves. John McLaughlin has Dem incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) down by 8 points, 52-44. That race has been tied for most of the last several months, and this polling tracks with what I told you earlier this week about the moves we’re seeing among married women strongly against the Democrats.
But elsewhere, New Jersey is now legitimately a tossup. This from FiveThirtyEight, which cites new polls from Fairleigh Dickinson (43-37) as well as Vox Populi (which has it a 4-point race) and Stockton University (which has it a 2-point race), all of which have the race within low single digits and/or the margin of error. Oh, and 22% remain undecided, which is terrible news for the incumbent.
This is quite different from the picture you get from RCP, by the way, which highlights one of the more glaring limitations of RCP (something I pointed out several times to you two years ago).
Menendez (D-NJ) won this seat by 19.5% six years ago, and wasn’t supposed to be in any trouble this time, so whether or not he actually loses in 2018, there’s a potential upset here that is illustrative that the broader national picture is not as has been presented, and that the fake Kavanaugh scandal has proved a huge miscalculation for the Democrats. Moreover, money the Dems were hoping to spend on Beto (a no-hoper, despite their best efforts) and in actual swing states may have to be diverted to save this supposedly safe seat.
Meanwhile, in Arizona, Vox Populi has McSally (R-AZ) leading for the first time in…ever? (I’d have to check, but it seems like ever.) McSally 52, Sinema 49. Close, but the undecideds seem to be breaking our way. In Nevada, Heller’s down but within the margin of error. And in Tennessee, Blackburn’s up 5 points (not the first time, just seems like it), a complete reversal from two weeks ago.
Oh, and in Florida? That much-vaunted Bill Nelson (D-FL) 7-point lead Quinnipiac claimed two weeks ago is down to one point or less in three separate polls these last two days: St. Pete Polls (47-47), Strategic Research (45-44) and Mason-Dixon (47-46). Note that in all three, Nelson is under 50%: indeed, that Q poll two weeks ago is the only one I can remember where he’s been above 50.
One other point. If we’re really seeing the enthusiasm surge among Republicans that NPR and Fox both reported yesterday — in NPR’s words, the enthusiasm gap as “evaporated” — then everyone’s Likely Voter model may have just become obsolete. And if that’s true — if — these numbers may all undercount Republicans, potentially by a lot. I’m not telling you that’s true: I’m telling you it’s something we need to pay attention to.
These are big developments. I’ll keep you posted.