Florida GOP Senate nominee Marco Rubio has jumped to a 16-point lead over independent Charlie Crist, according to the latest Fox News poll, as Republicans make gains across the country on dissatisfaction with President Obama's agenda.
In the first round of Fox News battleground surveys for the 2010 election, Republican candidates for Senate and governor in Florida, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Ohio and California all kick off the election season in contention or ahead.
In each of the states, large numbers of voters believe that the Obama agenda is hurting their local economy.
The surveys covered 1,000 likely voters in each state and were conducted by Pulse Opinion Research for Fox News on Sept. 11.
Here's the state-by-state breakdown:
Crist's Independent Bid Faltering in Florida
The independent Senate bid of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is in serious trouble, according to a new Fox News poll.
Crist drew 27 percent of likely voters in the poll of the three-way race. Republican Marco Rubio registered 43 percent support. Democrat Kendrick Meek came in third with 21 percent.
Crist's troubles likely reflect a consolidation of Democratic support behind Meek, a four-term congressman, since his August primary victory and strong support from Obama, former President Bill Clinton and the national Democratic Party. Crist's Senate run may also be taking a toll on his job approval ratings as governor. Just 41 percent approve of the job he’s doing, and 37 percent do not think he’s honest and trustworthy.
Crist has tried to woo Democrats with ads touting liberal positions and playing up his support for Obama. But that may have cost him in the center, where his independent bid began.
Rubio's biggest advantage may be the mood of the Florida electorate this year. Only 37 percent approve of the job Obama is doing; 44 percent say they are angry about the way the federal government is working, 54 percent favor repealing Obama's national health care program and 57 percent say Obama doesn't deserve to be reelected.
The bitter primary fight for governor on the Republican side, meanwhile, seems to have taken a toll. Nominee Rick Scott trails Democrat Alex Sink -- 41 to 49 percent.
Reid and Angle Deadlocked in Nevada
In what's shaping up to be the toughest Senate battle of the year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is tied with Tea Party-backed Republican challenger Sharron Angle, according to the latest Fox News poll.
Angle drew 45 percent support, while Reid took in 44 percent. Five percent opted for "none of these," Nevada's unique ballot option that allows one to vote against all the candidates on offer. And Reid's path to victory depends on growing the number of "none of these" voters.
Reid's low job approval in the survey – 40 percent said he was doing a good job, while 55 percent disagree – helps explain the Democratic strategy of encouraging "none of the above" votes.
Reid is unpopular, but he does have ardent supporters. While only 63 percent of those backing Angle said they "strongly" supported the former state senator, Reid got strong support from 77 percent of his backers. If enough of Angle’s lukewarm supporters ditch her in favor of a protest vote, Reid can win the election and not move much beyond the 44 percent he garnered in the poll.
A looming problem for Reid is the failing gubernatorial campaign of his son, Rory. The younger Reid trailed Republican nominee Brian Sandoval by 18 points -- 56 to 38 percent. If Democrats expect a landslide loss for governor, there will be one less reason to go vote for Rory's still-unpopular father.
But the biggest problem for Nevada Democrats this year is the dismal condition of the state's economy. Nevada has the nation's worst unemployment rate and remains crippled by foreclosures. Sixty-three percent said the state's economy was in poor condition and 46 percent believed Obama's policies had hurt the state's economy. Thirty percent didn't think Obama's policies had done much at all.
Obama's job approval rating was 42 percent in the state, while 55 percent favored repealing the president's national health care program.
Pushback on Obama Agenda Gives Dems Trouble in Pennsylvania
Opposition to the policies of the Obama administration is helping Republican Pat Toomey gain an edge in Pennsylvania’s Senate race, according to a new Fox News poll.
Half of respondents said they wanted their vote to represent opposition to the policies of the Obama administration, and 56 percent favored repealing the president's national health care program. Only 40 percent approved of the job Obama is doing as president. The president carried Pennsylvania in a 10-point landslide in 2008.
Thirty-one percent said they were dissatisfied with the way the federal government works. Thirty-five percent said they were angry about it.
Jobs and the economy are far and away the top concerns for Pennsylvania voters -- 41 percent said these were most important. Concerns about the deficit and federal spending ranked second with 29 percent.
That could mean trouble for Sestak, who welcomes Obama for a campaign event in Philadelphia next week. While 21 percent of respondents said Obama's policies have helped the state's economy, 41 percent say they have hurt and 32 percent think they haven't made much of a difference. A 42-percent plurality in the industrial state opposes a plan to cap carbon emissions like the one proposed by Obama.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett is faring even better than Toomey. Corbett led Democratic nominee Dan Onoroto 50 percent to 40 percent.
GOP Has the Edge in Ohio
Republicans hold the advantage so far in the battleground state of Ohio, a new Fox News poll finds.
Republican Senate candidate Rob Portman held a 7-point lead over Democrat Lee Fisher among likely voters -- 48 to 41 percent. Democratic incumbent Gov. Ted Strickland trails GOP challenger John Kasich by 5 points -- 48 to 43 percent.
In bad news for Fisher and Strickland, 73 percent of respondents said their votes would be more determined by national issues, while only 23 percent say their decision will be based on the candidates themselves.
Obama's approval rating in the poll was an anemic 39 percent. Forty-four percent believe the president's policies have hurt the Buckeye State's economy. Fifty-four percent favor repealing the president's national health care program.
California Cool to Dems
Sen. Barbara Boxer is in a statistical dead heat with Republican challenger Carly Fiorina, while Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman holds a 6-point lead over Democrat Jerry Brown, a new Fox News poll finds.
California -- a Democratic stronghold for more than a decade -- seems to be tuning out its leaders, registering tepid support for Obama and the state's two Democratic senators.
Obama won California in a 24-point landslide in 2008, but now registers 48 percent job approval. Only 46 percent believed he deserves reelection in the survey of likely voters. Sen. Diane Feinstein had a 44 percent job approval rating. Boxer garnered only 42 percent support for her performance in the Senate.
It shows in the horse race polls. Fiorina trailed Boxer by only 2 points – 44 percent to 46 percent – and Whitman's lead looks sturdy for now (49 percent to Brown's 43 percent).
California's stagnating economy seems to be the cause. Jobs and the economy were the top issue for 46 percent of voters (deficits and government spending came in second with 26 percent).
Thirty five percent of respondents believed that Obama's policies had hurt the state's economy. Only a quarter believed they had helped. Most surprising, respondents in the famously liberal state were evenly divided on the question of repealing Obama’s national health care program.
Democrats can be comforted by the knowledge that it could be worse – 53 percent of respondents believed that outgoing Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s policies had hurt the state's economy.