Poll: Murkowski in dead heat with Miller in Alaska Senate race

A new poll out Wednesday shows Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) polling nearly even with Republican nominee Joe Miller in Alaska's Senate race. 

According to a new CNN/Time poll, the Tea Party-backed Miller leads Murkowski by just two percentage points--38 percent to 36 percent. Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams (D) is in third with 22 percent of the vote. The survey polled 927 likely voters and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.

Murkowski is waging a write-in bid this fall after being upset by Miller in the state's GOP Senate primary. 

The poll found a high level of support for Murkowski among Democrats. A full 39 percent of Democrats said they intend to write-in Murkowski's name in November, while 55 percent said they will vote for McAdams. 

Among Republicans, Murkowski garners 32 percent to Miller's 63 percent. 

The results come with a major caveat given the difficulty of polling a write-in campaign. Alaska-based pollster Marc Hellenthal said he expects a large drop-off between the percentage of voters who say they back Murkowski in pre-election polls to her actual vote percentage on Election Day. 

Here's the way the question was asked: "If the election for U.S. Senate were held today and the candidates were Scott McAdams, the Democrat and Joe Miller, the Republican, who would you be more likely to vote for or would you write in the name of Lisa Murkowski, who is also running?"

National Republicans have largely abandoned Murkowski since she announced her write-in campaign and the NRSC is backing Miller. 


Blumenthal in dead heat with McMahon in Connecticut

New numbers out Tuesday from Quinnipiac University show Republican Linda McMahon has closed what was once a double-digit gap with state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D).

The latest poll has McMahon trailing by just three percentage points — 49 percent to 46 — with 4 percent of voters still undecided. In a Q-Poll from earlier this month, Blumenthal's lead was slightly larger, 51 percent to 45.

The movement toward the former World Wrestling Entertainment executive comes in part from a shift in independent voters. Earlier this month, Blumenthal led by a single point among independents — 47-46 percent. But Tuesday's numbers give McMahon the edge with independents, 49-44 percent.

"Blumenthal has to be concerned about Linda McMahon's momentum," said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz. "McMahon clearly is capitalizing on the anger that one-third of voters are feeling toward the federal government."

McMahon holds a big edge among "angry" voters. Respondents who described themselves as "angry" with the federal government are supporting McMahon 78 percent to 20. 

The Republican has spent more than $22 million of her own money on the race, and a full 95 percent of likely voters told Quinnipiac they have seen a McMahon TV ad. She has closed a large gap with Blumenthal, who began the race with a lead of more than 20 percentage points. 

One worry for McMahon: her favorables. Even as she has closed on the Democrat, her favorable numbers are split, with just 42 percent of likely voters holding a favorable view and 43 percent holding an unfavorable view of her.  

Blumenthal recently got a campaign boost courtesy of President Obama, but his approval numbers are upside down in the state, according to Quinnipiac — just 45 percent of likely voters approve. 

The survey polled 1,083 likely voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. 


Poll: GOP holds big lead with independents

New numbers out Thursday from the Pew Research Center show that independent voters are more motivated than usual for a midterm election and that they've turned against the party in power.  

The Pew poll gave Republicans a 7-point edge on the generic ballot question among all likely voters--50 percent to 43 percent. Among independents the lead is 13 percent. 

Pew's conclusion: "The Republican Party holds a significant edge in preferences for the upcoming congressional election among likely voters, in large part because political independents now favor Republican candidates by about as large a margin as they backed Barack Obama in 2008 and congressional Democratic candidates four years ago."

It's more bad polling news for Democrats with independent voters about as likely as Democrats to say they will definitely vote this fall. Among that highly motivated group of independents, 64 percent told Pew they plan to vote Republican.

While independents are largely unsupportive of the current Democratic leadership in Washington, they demonstrate no longterm allegiance to the GOP. A full 53 percent of independents said they are distrustful of both major parties. 

The survey polled 2,816 registered voters, including 2,053 voters considered the most likely to vote on Election Day.  


Rep. Murphy down double-digits in new poll

Two-term Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) is down big to former Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), according to a new poll out Thursday on the race in Pennsylvania's 8th Congressional District.

The new Franklin and Marshall poll gives Murphy a 14-point lead among likely voters in a race that's a rematch of the 2006 contest in the district in which Murphy first ousted Fitzpatrick during a favorable year for Democrats. 

Fitzpatrick leads Murphy 49 percent to 35 percent among likely voters in the poll.

President Obama's popularity is also a factor in this race. Even though Obama won the 8th District over Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) two years ago, his approval rating is now less than 40 percent in the district. 

Murphy had an easy go of it in 2008, winning reelection with 57 percent of the vote over Republican Tom Manion. But Fitzpatrick poses a much tougher test for the incumbent this fall. Murphy defeated Fitzpatrick by less than 2,000 votes to win his first term in '06.

Fitzpatrick has already been the beneficiary of help from the National Republican Congressional Committee, which launched an independent expenditure ad targeting Murphy last week.


Rep. Sestak trails in new poll

New numbers out Tuesday from Quinnipiac University show former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) with a 7-point edge over Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) in Pennsylvania's Senate race.  

Toomey leads 50 percent to 43 percent in the new poll, mostly thanks to a healthy lead among independents. Toomey holds a 54 percent to 36 percent with that group.

President Obama's approval numbers in the state are likely dragging Sestak down a bit, too. A full 56 percent of likely voters said they disapprove of the job the president is doing. 

And by a margin of 52-43 percent, voters said they want a Senator who opposes the president's policies. 

The numbers also show a sizable gender gap in the race with Toomey ahead 58-37 percent among men and Sestak leading with female voters 51-40 percent.  

The numbers track with the latest Rasmussen poll, which gives Toomey an 8-point lead. 

On Monday, President Obama was in the state to raise money for Sestak, telling voters the congressman is "not one of the insiders who's been part of the problem. He's been solving problems in Washington."


Poll: West Virginia Senate race a dead heat

The special election to fill the seat of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) was supposed to be a cakewalk for Gov. Joe Manchin (D), but new numbers released Tuesday show the popular governor in a dead heat with Republican businessman John Raese. 

The poll from Public Policy gives Raese a lead over Manchin 46 percent to 43 percent. A full 10 percent of likely voters remain undecided. While that lead is within the margin of error, the numbers do suggest some serious problems for Manchin. 

Despite Manchin's personal popularity — pollster Tom Jensen notes that Manchin's approval is second only to Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) — the governor is being dragged down by low ratings for President Obama and national Democrats. 

The president's approval rating stands at just 30 percent in West Virginia, and 57 percent of likely voters said they think the national Democratic Party is "too liberal."

"These poll numbers show a much more favorable race for Raese than anything that's been released publicly to date, so I'd suggest caution in declaring too much momentum for the Republicans in West Virginia before other data confirms it," Jensen wrote. "But one thing is definitely clear: this race is not going to be a slam dunk for Democrats as might have been hoped at one time."

After Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) passed on a Senate run earlier this year, it was expected that Manchin would have an easy road to the Senate, but Raese has spent heavily on TV ads tying Manchin to the president and Democrats in Washington.