Polls begin to look up for GOP this fall
The Republican Party has had a grim August, one filled with indictments, guilty pleas, courtroom convictions, gloomy prognosticators and a potential midterm disaster. So why are some party officials smiling? Polls.House races in some states still look to be a challenge for Republicans. Texas, however, appears to be an exception even though there were several retirements the GOP candidates still look like the favorite. In the Senate race, even where some Democrats are in the lead they are under 50 percent in the polls.
The latest numbers in a handful of Senate races seem to indicate brighter prospects for Republican candidates against Democratic incumbents in the November midterm elections.
In New Jersey, the Republican nominee appears to have trimmed Sen. Robert Menendez’s lead in what seemed to be a long-shot race. In Wisconsin, where a primary just provided clarity on who will be on the ballot, the Republican appears to be rallying behind its pick in the race against Sen. Tammy Baldwin.
In Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott has held the Republican nomination for several months, he appears to have taken a slim but unmistakable lead over longtime incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson.
“I think there’s a disconnect between handicappers in D.C. who just look at the numbers and don’t see what’s happening on the ground and those of us who do see what’s happening on the ground,” Republican National Committee spokesman Rick Gorka said.
Elections analysts, though, say Republicans are still facing massive headwinds, particularly in races for governorships and seats in the House.
The Senate is somewhat better for Republicans, chiefly because of the playing field. Of the 33 seats up for election this year, 10 are in states Donald Trump won in 2016.
That includes Wisconsin, where Ms. Baldwin is in her first re-election campaign. She finds herself with just a 2-point edge over Republican challenger Leah Vukmir, according to a Marquette Law School poll that also gave Republican voters a fractional edge in enthusiasm.
In Florida, a new poll puts Mr. Scott up 6 points in his race to oust Mr. Nelson, who first won his seat in 2000. Although it is a broader gap than other polls, the survey continues a trend showing Mr. Scott gaining ground and then taking a lead.
New Jersey is a state Mr. Trump did not win, but Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat who beat a corruption case after a hung jury last year, remains saddled with a dubious image as he seeks a third term.
His lead over Republican challenger Bob Hugin has fallen from 17 points to 6, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. The unexpected margin, coupled with another new figure that showed Mr. Menendez 7 points under with voters in approval versus disapproval, prompted gleeful hand-rubbing inside the Republican Party.
Ron Faucheux, a former Louisiana politician turned Beltway analyst, called the Wisconsin numbers a welcome surprise for Republicans, although he thinks Mr. Hugin’s chances in the Garden State remain slim.