Posted Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010, at 11:32 AM
Politico publishes a survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies for American Crossroads; i.e., for Karl Rove., which makes an audacious argument: the Republicans can win the Senate. "Voters in the 13 Battleground Senate seats," writes pollster Glen Bolger, "five held by Republicans, eight by Democrats[,] want to vote for Republicans.
How do they get this?
The Republican candidate leads on the ballot 47%-39% across the 13 Battleground Senate states. The lead is 45%-37% in the Republican-held states (Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Ohio), and 47%-40% in Democratic-held states (Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Washington).
Does anyone buy this? An "average" poll number across states with Senate races is not worthless, but it's close. In Delaware, Arkansas, and Indiana, Republican candidates have better than double-digit leads over the Democrats. In Florida, Democratic candidates Kendrick Meek and Jeff Greene are basically also-rans, as Democrats gravitate to independent candidate Charlie Crist. So you've got one 25-point lead (I'm guessing, based on other polls in Florida) warping the first five results, and three leads of 10 to 20 points warping the other eight results. If we had all the numbers we'd confirm what we already know -- that Republicans can waltz into three (four, if you add North Dakota) open Democratic seats, but that the other 10 competitive Senate races are toss-ups. The poll averaging on messaging is more interesting, as all but three of these states voted for the Obama-Biden ticket. But the purpose of the poll is to take something that political junkies think -- that sometimes, every close race breaks the challenger party's way -- and make it look like science.