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With a disproportionate amount of the public and media attention in an election year traditionally fixated on the race for the White House, it might seem a bit surprising that the predominant theme of today's Polling Wrap is what is going on down-ballot.

But when a series of polls take a sledgehammer to the long-held notion that the GOP was at least even money to claim the majority in the U.S. Senate, it seems to be a worthy topic for discussion.

So we shall. But first, on to the numbers:

PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION TRIAL HEATS:

NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Obama d. Romney (48-45)

NATIONAL (Ipsos/Reuters Tracking): Obama d. Romney (48-43 LV; 46-41 RV)

NATIONAL (Monmouth): Obama d. Romney (48-45 LV; 48-41 RV)

NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Obama tied with Romney (48-48)

NATIONAL (UPI/CVoter): Obama d. Romney (49-45)

INDIANA (Global Strategy Group for the Donnelly campaign): Romney d. Obama (47-41)

KENTUCKY (SurveyUSA): Romney d. Obama (53-39)

VIRGINIA (PPP): Obama d. Romney (51-46)

WISCONSIN (PPP for D.F.A.): Obama d. Romney (49-48)

DOWNBALLOT POLLING:
FL-SEN (Rasmussen): Sen. Bill Nelson (D) 47, Connie Mack IV (R) 40

IN-SEN (Global Strategy Group for the Mourdock Donnelly campaign): Joe Donnelly (D) 45, Richard Mourdock (R) 42

MA-SEN (PPP): Elizabeth Warren (D) 48, Sen. Scott Brown (R) 46

MA-SEN (Western New England College): Elizabeth Warren (D) 50, Scott Brown (R) 44 (53-41 among RVs)

NM-SEN (Public Opinion Strategies for the Wilson campaign): Martin Heinrich (D) 46, Heather Wilson (R) 41

NC-GOV (Rasmussen): Pat McCrory (R) 51, Walter Dalton (D) 38

VA-SEN (PPP): Tim Kaine (D) 47, George Allen (R) 46

VA-SEN (Rasmussen): Tim Kaine (D) 47, George Allen (R) 45

WI-SEN (Feldman Group for the Baldwin campaign): Tammy Baldwin (D) 50, Tommy Thompson (R) 45

WI-SEN (PPP for D.F.A.): Tammy Baldwin (D) 48, Tommy Thompson (R) 45

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

Today's spate of polling nicely illustrates a growing dilemma for Republicans. To put it simply, there are just a hell of a lot more Senate contests that seem to be trending away from them than there are ones trending towards them. Republicans could make a respectable argument that Connecticut looks better for them than it did a month or two ago. They might be able to make the same case in Nebraska, if you subscribe to the theory that a total lack of Democratic polling here and no media appetite to poll the race have, in themselves, some predictive value.

But that's essentially it. Polls over the last several days have shown just about every other race drifting away from the GOP to varying degrees. Even the House of Ras got in on the theme, showing two previously endangered Democrats (Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Bill Nelson of Florida) staked to leads in the high single digits.

Today's polls have to be particularly upsetting for the GOP, because in the past month, it really became baked-in conventional wisdom that the Republicans would seize the open seat in Wisconsin and hang onto their most vulnerable incumbent in Massachusetts. Polls had seemed to settle into a predictable range in both races, giving both Tommy Thompson and Scott Brown smallish-but-consistent leads. Thus, a pair of public polls showing Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren out in front, to say nothing of the two private polls showing that Tammy Baldwin had pulled back ahead in Wisconsin, came as a legitimate surprise. Then, the Democratic campaign of Joe Donnelly in red-leaning Indiana released their own internal polling giving them a lead. That poll, coupled with renewed spending in the Hoosier State by both partisan Senate committees, reminds us that the Democrats have a very legit pickup shot in a state where a competitive Senate battle this cycle seemed improbable at the start of this year.

The cherry on top? How deep in the hole is your campaign when you are compelled to start releasing internal polls in a purported tossup race showing your own candidate down five points? Such was the fate of Heather Wilson (R-NM), whose campaign dumped the poll today along with an explanation that their candidate has a history of charging from behind to earn victories in the past. We'll see about that, but it is hard to concoct a sizable list of races where candidates released internal polls showing them losing, and then went on to big victory in November.

Now, no one gets elected in September. And, as Julie Sobel of the Hotline claimed this afternoon, the internal polls in Massachusetts may well be less optimistic than the public polls we've seen over the last two nights. But the GOP has a real trajectory problem right now, in that too many of the races they saw as pivotal in their path to 51 seats seem to be going the other direction. Whether that trajectory holds until November is another matter entirely, of course.

In other polling news...

  • I probably should've offered an explanation for this when I made the switch last week: you might notice that the polling head-to-heads I cite for Rasmussen's tracking poll may appear different than what you read in other publications. That is because, when those numbers are available, I choose to utilize the topline results that include leaners. Without leaners, the House of Ras was Romney +2 today.
  • Arguably the most eye-popping result today was that PPP poll (done for Democracy for America) that showed an outcome that most folks would call improbable: Tammy Baldwin with a bigger lead over her Republican rival than Barack Obama. The idea of Baldwin being a better bet for November than Obama in the Badger State is a bit hard to believe, but the good news is that we will either get confirmation or contradiction in short order. There are no less than three polls in the field in Wisconsin, with Marquette Law School and CBS/Quinnipiac due midweek, along with...PPP. The firm did the DFA poll last week, but then its readers selected Wisconsin as one of the four states to be polled this week.
  • Is the Obama/DNC convention "bounce" completely eroded? It honestly depends on whom is being asked. The most accurate assessment may well be that Barack Obama is doing slightly less well than he was at this point last week, but he is still in a better position than he was prior to the conventions. Gallup has seen some erosion from their peak for Obama early last week, but still show him leading by three points, which is a few points better than he was performing before the conventions. Also, Obama's job approval numbers (which are on a three-day track) are substantially better than they were pre-conventions.

    Meanwhile, today's Monmouth poll shows that Obama is up three points among both RVs and LVs since before the conventions. The UPI/CVoters poll shows even better for Obama, as it shows him one point better than he was last week, which would've presumably been the "peak" of his bounce.

    Other polls have seen some erosion, but of varying degrees. Rasmussen, predictably, let the bottom fall out of Obama's support. Ipsos/Reuters tracking has been less pessimistic, letting Obama hold onto most of his convention bounce (what was, at most, a 7-point edge has only slipped to 5-points). All in all, it is hard to dispute that Obama emerged from the convention season in a marginally better position than he was prior to the gatherings in Tampa and Charlotte.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 06:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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