Poll: Collins favorite for reelection, but GOP in trouble if she retires

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) would be an overwhelming favorite for reelection to the Senate next year, but Republicans would struggle to retain her seat if she opted to retire, according to a new poll released Thursday.

The survey from Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling found that 63 percent of voters in Maine approve of the three-term senator, and she holds wide leads over the state's two House members. In a hypothetical head-to-head, Collins defeats Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) 54-36 percent and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) 58-33 percent. In either contest, Collins carries more than a third of self-identified Democrats and leads among independents by more than 20 percentage points.

But there are lurking dangers to Republican chances to hold the seat: the possibility that Collins retires or faces a Tea Party challenge from the right. While Collins has the approval of two-thirds of GOP voters, in a hypothetical primary matchup against a "more conservative" opponent, she leads only 49-46 percent. Three quarters of those who describe themselves as "very conservative" — the group most likely to vote in a Republican primary — say they would like to replace Collins.


Young students more centrist than in 2008

A new survey indicates first-year college students have moderated their political views since 2008, with declining percentages calling themselves liberal and an increase in self-described "middle-of-the-road" youths since 2008.

The survey, conducted for the Cooperative Institutional Research Program among 192,912 freshman full-time students entering nearly 300 four-year colleges nationwide, shows that those describing themselves as "middle-of-the-road" increased by 4 percentage points since 2008. Liberal-identifying young people decreased by 4 percentage points for men, down to 26 percent, and 5 points for women, to 32 percent.

The number of youths identifying as conservative stayed largely steady since 2008, with 20 percent of women and about 26 percent of men identifying as conservative.


Poll: Christie would trounce Booker, and Bruce Springsteen, in NJ governor's race

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is the clear favorite for reelection in 2013, with a new poll showing him opening a double-digit lead over the top Democrats in the field, including Newark Mayor Cory Booker. In fact, Christie's polling numbers have swelled in the wake of Superstorm Sandy to the point he would even trounce his childhood idol Bruce Springsteen in a hypothetical matchup.

The poll, released Friday by Democratic firm Public Policy polling, showed that 67 percent of New Jersey voters approve of the job Christie is doing, with only a quarter of Garden State voters disapproving of his performance. That includes 65 percent of independents and even 56 percent of Democrats who have a favorable opinion of Christie, higher than any other governor that the polling firm has surveyed nationwide. Nearly nine in 10 voters approve of Christie's handling of the storm.

That's translated into a strong showing at the polls buoying Christie's reelection prospects. He leads Booker, a rising star in the Democratic Party, 50-36 percent in the polls, while besting former Gov. Richard Codey 53-31, New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney 57-20, and State Senator Barbara Buono 60-20.