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While the presidential race continues to look absurdly tight in most national polling, and perhaps a tad less so in a state-by-state analysis, the banner headlines for the Tuesday edition of the Wrap come from opposite ends of the country, where two Democratic candidates are in a position where they have not been in a while—out in front.

While both are in what are generally considered to be tossup races, both gubernatorial aspirant Jay Inslee of Washington and Senate contender Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts are sporting actual leads in new polling out today. That, and another example of internal polling counterstrike, grace our edition of the Wrap.

On to the numbers:

PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION TRIAL HEATS:

NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Obama d. Romney (46-45)

NATIONAL (Hart and McInturff for NBC News/Wall Street Journal): Obama d. Romney (49-43)

NATIONAL (PPP for Daily Kos/SEIU): Obama tied with Romney (46-46)

NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Romney d. Obama (45-44)

MICHIGAN (Rasmussen): Obama d. Romney (48-42)

DOWNBALLOT POLLING:
FL-16 (PPP for Fitzgerald): Rep. Vern Buchanan (R) 44, Keith Fitzgerald (D) 36

MA-SEN (MassINC): Elizabeth Warren (D) 40, Sen. Scott Brown (R) 38

NY-01 (Garin-Hart-Yang for the House Majority PAC): Rep. Tim Bishop (D) 56, Randy Altschuler (R) 32

WA-GOV (Elway): Jay Inslee (D) 43, Rob McKenna (R) 36

A few thoughts, as always, await you just past the jump...

Despite the best efforts of the Republicans (and sympathetic media outlets in Boston...cough...the Herald...cough), it looks like Elizabeth Warren has more than weathered this recent "scandal", and still remains no worse than even money to defeat Senator Scott Brown and reclaiming this long-Democratic seat in the U.S. Senate.

One thing that may undermine Brown (in a state where he has really defied conventional political gravity with his success) is none other than former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. The GOP presidential nominee's favorability numbers in the state are just putrid (39/53) for a guy who is a "native son." When those lackluster favorability numbers are paired with those of Barack Obama (60/34), there may be a substantial undertow for any Republican downballot in the state come November.

Even more interesting: MassINC also does have Brown coming out of the stratosphere in terms of his personal favorability numbers. His net fav/unfav (50/33) is decent, especially for a Republican in a blue state. But they are now actually a tick worse than Warren's (47/26). That has not been the case in most recent polling in Massachusetts, where Brown's own substantial reservoir of political goodwill with local voters has allowed him to negotiate what is, on paper, brutal terrain for a Republican.

Meanwhile, 3000 miles away, former Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee moves into his first lead in months in Washington's governor's race, where Republican Rob McKenna was looking to become the first GOP chief executive in the state in decades.

Key to Inslee's success, he is starting to take the traditional Democratic edge in the Seattle metro area, a place where McKenna has been successful in the past. Also, Inslee actually forged a small lead among Independent voters. In a state where self-identified Democrats are considerably more common than self-identified Republicans (a 35-23 lead for the Democrats, even in the 2010 exit polls), Republicans need a lead with Indies, and usually a pretty substantial one, to avoid getting outflanked.

Now, both of these are just one poll, and there is always a danger in drawing sweeping conclusions from a single data point. However, the movement in both races, at least, do have some plausible foundation. In both cases, the current poll is only a mild departure from previous data (Massachusetts has always been tight, and Inslee had been gaining ground before—moving the race from a modest McKenna lead to a tie). Thus, there is justifiable grounds in both cases for tempered Democratic optimism.

In other polling news...

  • Give the campaign of Democrat Keith Fitzgerald in Florida credit—they know how to play the polling game, too. The ink was still damp on a GOP internal poll last week showing embattled GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan wiping the floor with Fitzgerald, and Team Fitzgerald elected to send their own poll into the field. Contracting with PPP, they released their numbers today. Buchanan had claimed a lead of 22 points. Fitzgerald's poll put the margin at 8 points. One factor that gives this one the ring of truth: the sample was actually slightly more pro-Republican (as it relates to presidential performance) than the 2008 vote totals in the newly-drawn 16th. Also, Fitzgerald still has very modest name recognition, meaning he likely has some upside as the battle is joined as we head into the Fall.
  • The House Majority PAC also releases a poll in another race, implying that Tim Bishop, whose narrow re-election was the last House race called in 2010, is considerably more comfortable this time around. While I am a bit skeptical about a win of under a point in 2010 suddenly morphing into a 20+ point lead, it is worth noting that last week's Siena poll showed Mitt Romney doing horribly in New York. If Republicans have an albatross at the top of the ticket in New York, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that some damage may get done down ticket. That might also bode poorly for some of those freshman Republicans upstate that have legitimate Democratic contenders.
  • Rasmussen still sees Michigan as a reasonably blue state, though they do have it a bit closer this month. Interestingly, CBS just announced a deal with Quinnipiac to poll six swing states through the election. Michigan was not among those selected. The six states selected were Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. My two cents? Unless they really think that the Senate race will be a barnburner, I simply do not get why you pick Wisconsin over North Carolina or Michigan.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 05:15 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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