Fox News Polls: Dems Make Gains as Republicans Hang Tough in Battleground States

With just seven days until Election Day, Democrats are picking up support on their home turf, as Republicans look to hang on to deliver upset wins.

The latest surveys were conducted on Oct. 23 by Pulse Opinion Research for Fox News. Each survey included 1,000 likely voters and has a margin of error of 3 points.

Next week’s final surveys will be available to Power Play subscribers through the America’s Election HQ app on Monday at 7 a.m., two hours before they’re released publicly.

Dem Gains With Obama Opposition in West Virginia

The surprise Senate battle in West Virginia is deadlocked with just a week to go.

A new Fox News battleground state poll of likely voters shows Republican John Raese still leading with 48 percent of the vote, the same as the two previous Fox News polls. But Democrat Gov. Joe Manchin is gaining ground and now takes 46 percent of the vote, up from 43 percent at the beginning of the month.

Raese's 2-point advantage is within the poll’s margin of error, but his steady support in the face of a barrage of attack ads and media scrutiny must concern Democrats.

The race is a unique referendum on the leadership of President Obama.

Manchin continues to be popular, holding a 69 percent job approval rating as governor and a 69 percent personal favorability rating. But Obama is hugely unpopular in the state. Only 29 percent in the overwhelmingly Democratic state approve of the job the president is doing.

Fifty-nine percent said Obama’s policies have hurt the state’s economy and 76 percent favor repealing all or parts of the president’s national health insurance law. Twenty one percent favored keeping or expanding the law.

The poll was taken before Manchin this week reneged on his support for the insurance law, saying he has discovered new elements that now lead him to oppose the measure.

Manchin is also suffering from his own high job approval. Twelve percent of Raese supporters said their votes were entirely intended at keeping Manchin as governor, while 15 percent said it was a partial consideration in their votes for Raese.

Manchin, who is now airing an ad that calls Raese “crazy,” is succeeding in driving up negative perceptions of his opponent. Unfavorable views about Raese are up to 45 percent from 37 percent on Oct. 2.

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Religion Attack Not Working for Conway

Kentucky Democrat Jack Conway’s ad questioning the Christian faith of Republican Senate rival Rand Paul seems to have backfired.

A new Fox News battleground state poll of likely voters shows Paul with a 7-point lead, 50 percent to 43 percent, but also shows voters personally displeased with Conway.

While Paul was viewed favorably by 48 percent of voters and unfavorably by 41 percent of voters, only 38 percent had a positive impression of Conway while 51 percent held an unfavorable view.

Only 30 percent of respondents said that Conway shared their values compared to 43 percent for Paul.

But Conway’s biggest problem in his race against the libertarian Republican Paul has been the dire unpopularity of President Obama and his agenda in Kentucky.

Just 35 percent of respondents approved of the job Obama was doing, 66 percent favored repealing all or part of the president’s national health-insurance law and 51 percent thought Obama’s policies had hurt the state’s economy, compared to 21 percent who thought they had helped.

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Ohio Governor Battle Still Smoldering

Ohio Republican John Kasich is still ahead in his bid to unseat Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, but the battle promises to rage until the last ballot is cast.

In a new Fox News battleground state poll of likely voters, Kasich led Strickland by 4 points, 47 percent to 43 percent. That’s down from 6 points last week but consistent with the average lead for Kasich through seven weeks of Fox polling.

Kasich is a primary target for the Obama administration. President Obama and Vice President Biden will make their last joint appearance of the campaign season at a Cleveland rally for Strickland.

The good news for Strickland is that Obama’s job approval rating has rebounded from its low of 33 percent in the state on Oct. 9. This week, Obama got passing marks from 39 percent of voters.

The bad news for Strickland is that 48 percent still believe Obama’s policies have hurt the Buckeye State’s economy. Twenty Three percent say they have helped and 24 percent say they have made no difference.

Sixty four percent favor repealing all or parts of Obama’s national health insurance law, compared to 32 percent who want to keep or expand it.

Owing to the large and consistent lead for Republican Rob Portman in his Senate race with Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, Fox News did not survey preferences in that contest.

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GOP Clings to Lead in Race for Obama Seat

The race to fill President Obama’s former Senate seat from Illinois is heading down to the wire with Republican Mark Kirk clinging to a slim lead.

In a new Fox News battleground state poll of likely voters, Kirk, a congressman from the northern suburbs of Chicago, led Giannoulias, the state treasury and a political ally of Obama, by just two points, 43 percent to 41 percent.

Kirk’s margin is identical to the result when Fox polled the state on Sept. 25. The worry for Giannoulias is that Green Party Candidate LeAlan Jones is still polling at a steady 7 percent a month after the first poll.

Liberals who either dislike Giannoulias’ recent efforts to second-guess President Obama’s priorities or who are simply uncomfortable with Giannoulias’ associations with organized crime figures, may be the ones flocking to Jones and the Green Party.

While voters don’t see either Kirk or Giannoulias in a favorable light, perceptions of the Democrat are substantially worse.

Only 34 percent of voters had a favorable impression and 44 percent had an unfavorable impression of Kirk, whose exaggerated military accomplishments have been the focus of the Giannoulias campaign.

Giannoulias was viewed favorably by 33 percent of voters and unfavorably by 52 percent. Regulators shuttered Giannoulias’ family bank this year after a series of questionable loans, including several to convicted mobsters.

With the Senate race so close, both parties are preparing for a legal battle over thousands of military votes that may go uncounted because of mistakes by county clerks in not sending ballots to troops in time.

Republican state Sen. Bill Brady is still leading in his bid to unseat incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn. Brady’s margin has shrunk by half in the past month from 10 points in September to 5 points this week, 44 percent to 39 percent.

Quinn, who has been dogged by connections to the scandal-soaked administration of his predecessor, Rod Blagojevich, is also suffering from divisions on the left.

Not only is Green candidate Rich Whitney (accidentally listed as “Rich Whitey” on some Chicago-area ballots) pulling 4 percent of the vote, but Scott Cohen, an independent who surrendered his Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor following revelations of domestic problems with a former girlfriend, drew 6 percent.

Cohen, a hugely successful pawnbroker and real estate investor, has pumped millions of dollars into his campaign to derail Quinn, who led the charge to force Cohen off the ticket following his primary win. Cohen’s campaign has focused mostly on minority voters.

President Obama, meanwhile, gets poor marks in his home state. His overall job approval remained essentially unchanged at 45 percent. Fifty five percent favor repealing all or some of his signature legislative accomplishment: a national health-care law.

Forty-three percent now say Obama’s policies have hurt the state’s economy, up from 36 percent last month.

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Brown Pulling Away, But Boxer Stuck in Tight Race

While California Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina is trailing just outside the margin of error in her bid to unseat Sen. Barbara Boxer, GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman seems to be falling out of contention in her race with Democrat Jerry Brown.

In a poll of likely voters, Brown led Whitman by 9 points, 50 percent to 41 percent, compared to last week when his margin was only 5 points. Whitman led in the first Fox News battleground state poll, taken Sept. 11, by 6 points.

Boxer, meanwhile, has been less successful at shaking Fiorina. The three-term incumbent leads former tech CEO Fiorina by 4 points, 48 percent to 44 percent, the same as last week and similar to all four weeks of Fox polling.

Brown may benefit from local issues and personal attacks taking over the campaign. President Obama’s job approval rating in the state remains a lackluster 47 percent and 71 percent of state respondents said that Obama’s policies have hurt or done nothing to help the state’s woeful economy.

While Fiorina may be able to be play on that national-level dissatisfaction because of Boxer’s long incumbency in Washington, Brown has cast himself as a tax-cutter and a reformer while simultaneously highlighting wedge issues like abortion and playing off claims that Whitman knowingly employed an illegal immigrant housekeeper.

It also seems revelations that Brown tolerated Whitman being called a “whore” at a campaign meeting have done little damage. The attorney general and former governor led Whitman among women 53 percent to 39 percent.

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Wrestling Attacks Pay Off for Blumenthal

Republican hopes of an upset win in Connecticut’s Senate race are fading, with the party’s unlikely hope for taking over the Senate are fading along with them.

Democrat Richard Blumenthal leads Republican Linda McMahon by 11 points, 53 percent to 42 percent, among likely voters in a new Fox News battleground state poll.

Just two weeks ago, McMahon had drawn within 6 points of the state’s longtime attorney general. But Blumenthal’s campaign and allied outside groups like Planned Parenthood have kept up a steady barrage of negative ads focused on World

Wrestling Entertainment, the business McMahon built with her husband, Vince.

An indication of how the wrestling focus of the Blumenthal campaign is paying off, Republican Tom Foley’s bid for governor against former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy actually gained ground in the same period.

Foley, a former envoy to Iraq and ambassador to Ireland under President George W. Bush, now trails Malloy by 3 points, 47 percent to 44 percent. On Oct. 2, Foley trailed by 6 points. On Oct. 9, Foley trailed by 4 points.

McMahon is also not benefiting from the same anti-Democratic wave that is washing over the rest of the nation. Connecticut voters gave president Obama a 48 percent job approval rating, the highest in this week’s surveys.

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