2006 Senate Polls: One Week Out
The 2006 midterm elections are one week from today and the latest CNN/Opinion Research polls show the GOP closing the gap or pulling away in some key contests.
Sen. Jim Talent (R) 49%
Aud. Claire McCaskill (D) 49
Sen. Bob Menendez (D) 51%
State Sen. Tom Kean (R) 44
Rep. Sherrod Brown (D) 54%
Sen. Mike DeWine (R) 43
Ex-Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker (R) 52%
Rep. Harold Ford (D) 44
Ex-Navy Sec. Jim Webb (D) 50%
Sen. George Allen (R) 46
That the GOP would hold Missouri, Virginia, and Tennessee would have been wildly optimistic even a month ago but it now looks possible. Still, the margin in both the TN and VA race shown in that poll are outliers. Here are the RealClearPolitics Senate Poll Averages for the key races:
The trends have Corker pulling away in Tennessee and Webb moving ahead in Virginia. The net, though, would still be only five seats, one shy of what the Democrats need to take over the majority.
Overall, it’s not looking good for the GOP but it should fall far short of the “Democratic wave” predicted by analysts like Charlie Cook. The most optimistic conceivable outcome for the GOP is to hold all of the closely contested seats in VA, TN, and MO (statistically improbable, although each quite possible individually) and pick up the Maryland seat (quite unlikely). That would be a net loss of only two seats.
Conversely, the Democrats could run the table on the close races and pick up seven seats and the majority. Considering that two of those (TN and VA) are historically strong Republican states and the third (MO) tends to lean Republican, that’s quite unlikely as well.
My educated guess at this point is that the Democrats gain 5 seats, with Talent falling in Missouri and Allen holding on in Virginia. Michael Steele will fall short in Maryland but land a gig in the Bush White House and Harold Ford, Jr. will likewise lose in Tennessee and wind up on the short list of touted Democratic vice presidential candidates for 2008.