WASHINGTON – Election watchers experienced a virtual poll-apalooza Wednesday thanks to new numbers from Zogby International on key House races. The polls show that Democrats continue to look strong, but Republicans might still have a few tricks up their sleeves.
According to the polls of at least 500 voters, all conducted Oct. 24-29 and all with a 4.5 percent margin of error, Democrats were ahead in 12 of 15 races, a telling sign for the party that has sought to take back the House majority for the last 12 years.
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Two, Too, 2 Connecticut
Connecticut's 2nd District — two candidates, two polls, two conclusions. Too close to call? According to the Zogby poll, Republican Rep. Rob Simmons appears to be staving off a withering assault by Democrats in this state that is a critical battleground in the fight for House control. But the numbers are slim. With 47 percent, Simmons was ahead of Democrat Joe Courtney by 5 percent, but inside the margin of error. The undecideds are still 11 percent.
An Oct. 28-30 Research 2000 poll of 600 likely voters put Courtney up by 1 percent with 48 percent to Simmons 47 percent, a statistical tie within the 4 percent margin of error. The undecideds there were 5 percent.
Back and Forth in Connecticut's 4th District
Democrat Diane Farrell again posted a lead over incumbent Republican Rep. Chris Shays, the second time in the last two polls. In the Wednesday Zogby numbers, Farrell held a 7.5-point lead over Shays, 51 to 43.5 percent with 4 percent undecided.
In a poll released Tuesday, Farrell showed a 4-point lead. Before that, Shays had a 9-point lead. And before that, the two were tied.
Lots of Space for Ohio's Space
The seat currently held by Republican Rep. Bob Ney in Ohio's 18th District continues to look like a solid pickup for Democrats. Ney pleaded guilty to bribery charges in connection with the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, and other state Republican office-holders have had their share of legal and ethical troubles.
That's clearly affecting the fortunes of many of Ohio's Republicans, and state Sen. Joy Padgett, who was tapped to replace Ney, is no exception.
The Oct. 24-29 Zogby poll showed Democrat Zack Space ahead of Padgett by 20 points, 53 to 33 percent with 11 percent undecided.
Dems' Star Fading in North Star State?
The Minnesota 6th District race is considered a toss-up race by some professional poll watchers, but Republican candidate Michele Bachmann has been showing strong leads in recent surveys, including the new Zogby poll. She leads Democratic candidate Patty Wetterling by 10 percent, 52 to 42 percent with 4 percent undecided. In two polls earlier this month, Wetterling showed leads of 5 and 8 percent.
Bachmann and Wetterling are hoping to succeed Rep. Mark Kennedy, a Republican who is running for the Senate seat against Democrat Amy Klobuchar. She is leading 56 to 31 percent in a St. Cloud University poll of 494 Likely Voters conducted Oct. 15-27. The margin of error in that poll is 4 percent.
New Mexico's 1st: GOP Hopes Drying Up
October has been kind to Democrats in this must-win district that includes the state's largest city of Albuquerque. Five term Republican Rep. Heather Wilson was consistently down in polls last month to state Attorney General Patricia Madrid, and the newest Zogby poll doesn't change her fortunes. Madrid has 53 percent to Wilson's 44 percent with just 2 percent undecided.
Fundraising is favoring Madrid, but the handling of the investigation into a state official had been fodder for Wilson, who led the polls throughout September.
Things Looking Ducky in the Illinois 6th
This district that lies in the shadows of the Windy City must be under the influence of Lake Michigan's famous gusts because Democrat Tammy Duckworth is back in the lead in the vote regatta.
Iraq war veteran Duckworth posted a 14-point lead in the Zogby poll over state Rep. Peter Roskam, Duckworth was up 54 to 40 percent for Roskam with 3.5 percent undecided.
The numbers raise questions, however, since the two candidates appeared to be in the political doldrums throughout October, never getting ahead or falling behind by more than 5 points. The two were even tied once and within the margin of error four times.
Hoosier State Upset?
Republican Rep. Chris Chocola has been behind Democratic challenger Joe Donnelly in a majority of polls, but not by much. But the new Zogby poll puts Chocola behind by 13 points, 52 -39 percent with 6 percent undecided.
Chocola has been a strong contender in the district, losing in 2002 by a slim margin in what was then the 3rd District. In 2002, he won by 3 percent. Chocola then beat Donnelly by 10 points two years ago. Local issues could carry the day: an unfavorable toll-road lease and daylight saving time changes appear to be giving Donnelly an advantage.
Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman is leading Democrat businessman Ned Lamont by 12 points in the latest Quinnipiac University poll, 49-37 percent. While saying he's not changing his political stripes, Lieberman, who lost the primary to Lamont on a largely anti-war vote, decided to run an independent campaign.
Republican candidate Alan Schlesinger is also in the mix, but not getting support from the Republican National Committee and he doesn't look likely to get out of the single digits, banking 8 percent in the poll. The undecideds are 5 percent and the margin of error is 3.2 percent. The Oct. 24-30 poll surveyed 926 likely voters.
Show Me State Redux: Still No Clue
Democratic state Auditor Claire McCaskill leads Sen. Jim Talent by 3 points in the latest SurveyUSA poll taken Oct. 28-30, but it's a statistical tie because of the 4.4 percent margin of error. McCaskill has 49 percent compared to Talent's 46 percent; with 4 percent of the 525 likely voters polled still undecided.
This race continues to confound prediction. Two polls in recent days have shown true ties, one at 47 percent, another at 49 percent. Other polls put the two in statistical ties within the margin of error.
Santorum's Slide in Pennsylvania
In a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, Republican Sen. Rick Santorum's support looks like it's flowing down the Delaware River. Democratic challenger Bob Casey leads Santorum by 10 points, 52 to 42 percent with 6 percent undecided. The Oct. 23-29 surveyed 933 likely voters and had a margin of error of 3.2 percent. An Oct. 25-29 Keystone poll put Casey's lead at 17 points, 56 to 39 percent among 355 likely voters. Five percent are undecided and the margin of error is 5.4 percent.