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:

RealClearPolitics Senate Poll Averages

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.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Patrick McGuire says:

    There is still a week to go and as stated above the gap is closing. If this trend continues, and there isn’t any reason to believe it won’t, the GOP will pull ahead. The important thing here is not today’s position but the trend going into Nov. 7 when the final poll is conducted. Last week it was all about a huge Democrat wave taking over the Congress, now it’s the GOP hanging on to the Senate. Who wants to bet that by next Tuesday it will be what I predicted last week, a GOP increase in seats?

  2. SoloD says:


    Don’t see much of a GOP trend in these polls. MO is tied, as it has been throughout. Corker looks to be moving ahead in TN, but Webb seems to be eking ahead in VA as Allen’s erotic excerpts strategy seems to have backfired. All three could go either way, though.

  3. James Joyner says:


    There’s zero chance there will be a GOP gain in either House. Zero.

    It’s damned unlikely they can avoid losing the 15 seats that would give Dems the House and they’ll be very lucky, as noted above, to lose fewer than four seats in the Senate.

    This ain’t a wave but it’s hardly a good showing for the party.

  4. cian says:

    Given the way the country has been governed over the last five years, I’d imagine even die hard republicans would be glad if one house fell to the democrats. One party rule has not been good for the country, with a rubber stamp congress allowing a weak and surprisingly unsavy administration start a war they didn’t need to, and once started, conduct it with criminal negligence.

    Would a democratic House of Representatives or Senate have made any difference? Uncertain, but the likelihood of some meaningful oversight might have been helpful.

    The tide does seem to be turning the GOPs way, and should they prevail and, God forbid, increase their numbers on Capitol Hill, what the world already suspects will be offical- America is now a country where mediocrity rules.

  5. Derrick says:


    Are we reading the same polls? Allen has been up over Webb for the last 2 weeks and now he’s down this week and there is a trend for Allen?

  6. Patrick McGuire says:


    Do I take your reply to mean you accept my bet? I will even take a check!

  7. James Joyner says:


    So, you’re betting that the Republicans will, as a result of the elections to be held next Tuesday, hold more than 232 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and more than 55 seats in the U.S. Senate in the 110th Congress?

    I’d certainly take that bet!

  8. Suzanne Newman says:

    We just need to get Bush out of office before things get way beyond repair if we are not there right now.

  9. Triumph says:

    It is important to emphasize–as Bush said yesterday–that if the Democrats win, THE TERRORISTS WILL WIN.

    In fact, there is evidence that the terrorists are following the polls since they have forced the withdrawl of the US blockade on Sadr City.

    If the evildoers like Moqtada al-Sadr were not so emboldened by Democratic polling, they never would have been able to get Maliki to force his hand.

    The ceasing of the blockade will comprimise the security in all of Baghdad and our troops will be at further risk. This is all due to Democratic cowardice. Thanks a lot Howard Dean!

  10. I think, and I certainly hope you are mistaken about Jim Talent in Missouri. Not living in Missouri, as I do, perhaps you don’t have a full appreciation for just how bad a candidate Claire McCaskill is. Empty pantsuit doesn’t begin to describe it.

    It would be a shame to lose Talent (and talent, for that matter) in the Senate, as he one of the brighter, generally more reasonable senators currently holding office.

  11. James Joyner says:


    I’m not following that race particularly closely, just looking at numbers. I’m just guessing that the GOP is not going to hold all three of those states.

    Indeed, if I had to guess today, I’d say Allen is more likely to lose now than Talent, given yesterday’s fiasco.

  12. Chuck from Missouri says:

    Here in Missouri, Jim Talent is on the wrong side of the issues. That weakness is causing him to be on the wrong side of decency, as regards his campaign. He and the RNC are running an ultra-negative campaign that disgusts the voters here. Talent is desperate enough to bring W in on Friday. Strong Republicans are not inviting the Prez to campaign for them. The louder the GOP shrieks, the more they are being tuned out.

  13. Master Sgt. N. Thuesse says:

    Now I have no official party. First off, the quote “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it” fits very nicely. Historically, the democrats have spent more on defense. The “Cowboy” and his croonies obviously have not learned. Coming from a military family, I was OK with Afganistan. Iraq, my family and I are not. Military intelligence is knowing your enemy. People should know that these rebels held off the mighty Soviet army for 10 years. The Soviets also had at least three times as many troops, tanks, and gunships as we are currently using in that theater. Americans and government stooges need to realize that democracy may not be the answer for people who have been killing each other for thousands of years. Now you expect them to come together? Every day more rebels come across the border to attack the “american invaders”. If something drastic is not done we will be there for many more years. We have bigger issues in the world; North Korea, Iran, and now Venezuela. I feel less safe. Triumph, why do you think that if the democrats win, our enemies are now going to be anymore brazen than they already are. Iran just test fired a longer range missile and the Pres. of Venezuela got up on the world stage and called Bush a tyrant and a devil. Both incidents were not challenged by Bush. John McCain yesterday called Bush “the most inept president of our generation”.

    I am truly saddened by the state that our great country is in, and its reputation on the world stage. I fear that on the course we are going another world war is coming.