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Jay Nixon
Jay Nixon (D)

Public Policy Polling (PDF). 1/27-29. MoE ±4.1%. Missouri voters (9/9-12 results):

Jay Nixon (D-inc): 47 (45)
Bill Randles (R): 29 (24)
Undecided: 24 (30)

Jay Nixon (D-inc): 47 (--)
Dave Spence (R): 27 (--)
Undecided: 26 (--)

Jay Nixon (D-inc): 48 (--)
Tom Schweich (R): 30 (--)
Undecided: 22 (--)

Two polls released last Friday from Public Policy Polling both show double-digit leads for incumbent Democrats who, a year ago, were often on pundits' "vulnerable Dems!!!" lists but whose Republican opposition hasn't done much to justify that characterization. We'll start with Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, who sports leads of 18 and 20 against his two announced opponents, Bill Randles and Dave Spence. He also has a lead of 18 against State Auditor Tom Schweich, who, given the weakness of the current field, has floated his name for the race though hasn't taken any steps beyond that. (This is the same sample that pointed to a 45-45 tie between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney; between the gubernatorial and presidential numbers, you might think the sample is a bit too Democrat-friendly, but the sample went 46-45 for John McCain in 2008, the same fractional margin as the '08 Missouri results.)

Nixon, with an overall approval rate of 44/31, benefits not only from weak opposition (9/16 faves for Randles, 6/15 for Spence, and 12/16 for Schweich), but solid crossover appeal from Republicans (34/40 from them) and indies (44/29); the main thing holding him back from crossing the 50 percent mark is a relatively high rate of disapproval from Democrats (54/25). If you're unfamiliar with the Republicans here, Spence is the rich guy who was supposed to parachute in to the Republicans' rescue after Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder's stripper-related implosion last fall. The fact that Spence (whose rollout was greatly hampered by revelations that his claimed degree in economics was actually a degree in home economics) isn't polling any better than Bill Randles (a former lawyer who seems to be working more of a tea party angle than Spence, and who seems to personify what we at Daily Kos Elections call "Some Dude")—and is in fact losing the GOP primary to Randles, albeit by a useless 15-12 margin—suggests that Spence is not the magic bullet the Republicans were looking for.

More below the fold.

Public Policy Polling (PDF). 1/28-29. Ohio voters. MoE ±3.4% (11/4-6 results in parentheses, 10/13-16 results in brackets):

Sherrod Brown (D-inc): 47 (49) [48]
Josh Mandel (R): 36 (34) [40]
Undecided: 17 (17) [12]

The other poll of the day is in Ohio, where first-term Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown, as in almost all other polls, has a low-teens lead over his Republican opponent, State Treasurer Josh Mandel. Brown's strong head-to-head numbers may not reflect his own strength (he's at 42/34 approvals, with a surprisingly high 24 percent unsure) as much as weakness on the part of the young and transparently ambitious Mandel (and that perception may be getting baked in, seeing as how he's at 14/25 favorables, compared with 14/19 in November), who seemed to start running for Senate as soon as he took officer as treasurer in 2011 (to the detriment of his actual treasurer-type duties).

There were some criticisms (valid, I think, though probably not terribly important) of the generalizability of the November sample in this race, which was of "likely 2011 voters" right before the statewide vote on SB5 and which, given the enthusiasm gap going into that election, may have captured a more pro-union sample than the 2012 voter universe. Those critics might feel vindicated by the decline in Brown's lead from 15 last time to 11 this time and a similar small decline for Barack Obama in the time since November, with Obama leading Mitt Romney 49-42 now compared with 50-41 in early November. Of course, with changes that small, we could simply be looking at statistical noise; either way, these numbers offer some counterpoint to the conventional wisdom that Obama and Brown are in for some rough sledding in traditionally swingy Ohio.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 12:03 PM PST.

Also republished by Show Me Kos and Daily Kos.

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