Is Ted Strickland really crushing it this hard?
Quinnipiac just published a batch of polls
from three presidential swing states that are also all hosting key Senate races next year, and the results are a bit surprising. The bluest of the trio, Pennsylvania—it hasn't gone for a Republican at the top of the ticket since 1988—actually offers the worst results for Democrats, with GOP Sen. Pat Toomey beating ex-Rep. Joe Sestak by a rather wide 48-35 margin. That's up from 45-35 in January, though back then, a contemporaneous PPP survey found Toomey ahead just 40-36.
The debate seems to center, then, not around Sestak's standing but around Toomey's. If he's at 40, he's in a lot of trouble; if he's at 48, he's in good shape. Either way, we'll need more data to get a proper read. As for Sestak, it might seem surprising that a candidate who's run statewide is so little-known, but in fact, it's not. Sestak's prior engagement with Toomey is now five years distant, and many voters don't even know the name of the guy who won, let alone the guy who lost. So it makes sense that he has a lot of ground to recapture. The question is just how much.
Meanwhile, in much swingier Ohio, Quinnipiac finds Democratic ex-Gov. Ted Strickland with a stunning 48-39 lead over the Republican incumbent, Rob Portman. What makes these numbers so hard to believe is that the Ohio Democratic Party's own internal polling (conducted by PPP) found the two tied up at 45 just a month ago. Portman's margin over Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld—Strickland's primary rival who's refused to drop out, despite alleged promises to do so—is much more plausible, at 47-24.
If your head's spinning a bit, at least Quinnipiac's Florida results seem sensible. Mostly, they feature a lot of undecideds, since the pollster is presuming GOP Sen. Marco Rubio won't seek re-election and didn't include him in any of their matchups. Instead, they paired the two likeliest Republican alternatives, state CEO Jeff Atwater and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, against Democrat Reps. Patrick Murphy (the only declared candidate so far) and Alan Grayson. Here's how each twosome stacks up:
• Murphy (D): 35, Lopez-Cantera (R): 31
• Murphy (D): 34, Atwater (R): 38
• Grayson (D): 32, Lopez-Cantera (R): 33
• Grayson (D): 32, Atwater (R): 42
As we've seen in previous polling, Atwater's by far the best known of the bunch, but even he only has a 29-12 favorability rating (Lopez-Cantera's at just 13-8). Interestingly, Murphy only trails Atwater by 4 points while Grayson lags by 10, even though Grayson has greater name recognition, with a 20-17 favorable score versus 19-6 for Murphy. That's similar to what we saw in PPP's recent poll, though, with the two sporting similar positive scores but Grayson in possession of higher negatives. Of course, the totals are still very low, and importantly, Grayson isn't actually running yet (if he ever does at all).
In the end, there are good reasons to be skeptical of a lot of the numbers presented here, and you never want to rely on a single poll to inform your opinion of a race, especially when other polling data disagrees. But if you're reading Daily Kos, you already knew that.