UTICA, New York — Democrats appear closer to taking complete control of the United States Senate, as three seats now held by Republicans are in jeopardy, a new analysis of polling data by Zogby International shows.
The Zogby Interactive analysis of five key Senate races finds New Mexico, Virginia and Oregon trending to Democrats. The Democrats are in real danger of losing a seat in Louisiana. The fifth state, Colorado, is now tied.
Here is a synopsis of Zogby’s analysis in these five states based on online surveys conducted in those states from June 11-30, 2008:
New Mexico: Independent, moderate and Hispanic voters are putting Democrat Tom Udall in position to take the seat being vacated by Republican Pete Domenici. Udall leads Republican Steve Pearce, 49%-41%.
Udall has been a member of Congress since 1999, and is the son of former Interior Secretary (1961-69) and Arizona Rep. Stewart Udall. Pearce has been in Congress since 2003, and is an Assistant Minority Whip.
Moderates favor Udall by more than 2-to-1, while Independents give him a 10% lead. Udall nearly doubles Pearce’s support among Hispanics. The two are even among men, but Udall holds a solid lead among women.
Pearce’s strengths are with the traditional GOP voters: regular church goers and gun owners. The survey included 464 likely voters in New Mexico and carries a margin of error of +/- 4.6 percentage points.
Virginia: Mark Warner is that rare Southern Democrat who doesn’t need a big minority turnout to win. He has across the board support over Republican Jim Gilmore, leading 51%-36%, making him a big favorite to take the seat held for 30 years by Republican Sen. John Warner.
Mark Warner was a popular Governor from 2002-2006, and was considered a possible Presidential contender. Gilmore preceded Mark Warner as Governor.
Warner leads among white voters. He has a 3-to-1 advantage among moderates and 2-to-1 with Independents. That leaves Gilmore with only the Republican/Conservative base. The survey included 1,262 likely voters in Virginia and carries a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.
Oregon: Incumbent Gordon Smith is not sufficiently winning traditional Republican constituencies, and overall trails Democrat Jeff Merkley, 38%-29%. Independent candidate John Frohnmayer draws 8% and the Constitution Party’s Dave Brownlow gets 5%. Another 20% are unsure.
Smith was elected to the Senate in 1996. Like his predecessor, Sen. Mark Hatfield, he has followed a very moderate path. Merkley is speaker of the Oregon House. Frohnmayer was the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts from 1989 to 1992 under President George H.W. Bush, and was asked to resign under pressure from religious conservatives who opposed some funded arts projects. His brother, David B. Frohnmayer, was Oregon Attorney General and is president of the University of Oregon.
Smith gets only 57% of Republicans and 60% of Conservatives. Merkley and Smith are tied among men, and the Democrat leads all income groups, including the highest we measure, more than $250,000. The survey included 821 likely voters in Oregon and carries a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.
Louisiana: Republican John Kennedy is among the GOP’s best hopes to oust a Democratic incumbent. He leads Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu, 47%-41%. To prevent a defeat, Landrieu will need a large turnout among women, moderates, African-Americans and low-income voters. Her task was made more difficult due to population loss in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Landrieu is the daughter of former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu. She is going for her third term, and has often voted with Republicans, including on issues such as tax cuts, offshore drilling and court appointments. Kennedy is a three-term State Treasurer, and a straight line conservative.
Landrieu wins among all voters with annual family incomes below $100,000. She leads among women, but her margin of 13% is not enough to overcome the state’s large conservative voting bloc.
Kennedy has a very solid hold on those conservatives, including 16% of self-identified Democrats. His lead is also very dependent on older voters.
The wild card here is the presence of Barack Obama on the ballot, and how many new minority and young voters he will bring out. The survey included 431 likely voters in Louisiana and carries a margin of error of +/- 4.8 percentage points.
Colorado: Democrat Mark Udall will need a larger share of the Hispanic vote to take this seat currently held by Republican Wayne Allard. Udall and Republican Bob Schaffer are even at 40%. One-half of Hispanics are undecided.
Udall has been a member of Congress since 1999, and is the son of former Arizona Rep. Mo Udall (1961-1991). He is the cousin of Tom Udall. Schaffer was elected to Congress in 1996, and served three terms. He lost a bitter Senate primary to brewing magnate Pete Coors in 2004. Coors lost the election to Ken Salazar.
Udall’s lead among Independents balances off Schaffer’s Republican enrollment edge. The race has a pronounced gender gap, with Schaffer taking men and Udall women, both by big margins. The survey included 780 likely voters in Colorado and carries a margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points.
Pollster John Zogby: “Democrats have fielded very strong candidates in Virginia and Colorado, and they are certainly poised to ride the Democratic wave. In Oregon, Smith has the tough task of holding conservatives while reaching out to moderates. In Louisiana, Sen. Mary Landrieu faces a strong conservative challenger in John Kennedy. The state was profoundly shaken by Hurricane Katrina, and Landrieu faces a different situation than she did six years ago. The Colorado race is close now, but Mark Udall has the advantage in a fast-changing state.”
After nearly a decade in development, the Zogby Interactive survey on a state level was remarkably accurate in the 2006 midterm elections. In 18 U.S. Senate elections polled two years ago, the Zogby online survey correctly identified the winner of 17 of 18 races, and in the 18th race – in Missouri, it was still within the margin of error, though it had Republican Jim Talent winning (he was defeated narrowly by Democrat Claire McCaskill).
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