Poll: Chicago mayor's race wide open

The first poll out on the Chicago mayor's race shows there's no early favorite for what will be the first open-seat contest in the city in decades.

Leading the way were the 35 percent of voters who didn't have a candidate preference in the Democratic primary. And no one among the nine potential candidates included in the poll registered a statistically significant advantage.

Longtime mayor Richard Daley (D) announced Tuesday that he will not seek reelection next year.

For what it's worth, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart led the way with 12 percent support. He was followed by state Sen. James Meeks with 10 percent and Rep. Luis Gutierrez with 9 percent.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. garnered 8 percent in the poll and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel received 7 percent.

The poll, commissioned by the Chicago Sun-Times, was conducted by the firm McKeon and Associates. It surveyed 600 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

The primary isn't until February of next year, but the race is already heating up and Emanuel is expected to make a decision soon on whether to leave the White House for a run at city hall.

On CNN Thursday, Jackson took an early shot at Emanuel, warning that if President Obama's chief of staff did decide to get in the race, "it will become a national campaign."

"The president's record will probably be brought into that campaign," said Jackson, who noted "Rahm Emanuel will have to answer the questions about those communities that have been left behind."

Like Emanuel, Jackson has not yet made a decision on a mayoral run.

Earlier this week, President Obama said Emanuel would be "an excellent mayor," but said he didn't expect his chief of staff to make any decision before the November midterm elections.


Poll: Rubio surges in Florida Senate race

A new poll out Thursday shows Republican Marco Rubio surging to a double-digit lead in the state's three-way Senate race.

The Sunshine News/Voter Survey Service poll found:

Marco Rubio (R)                                 43 percent
Gov. Charlie Crist (I)                         29 percent
Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.)           23 percent

The poll, conducted by Susquehanna Research, surveyed 1,016 likely voters and has a margin of error of 3 percent. 

The numbers show Rubio and Crist running even among independent voters. Rubio has 38 percent support among independents to 36 percent for Crist.

But among Democratic voters, it's Meek who leads with 45 percent of the vote to Crist's 35 percent. It's a slight improvement for Meek among Democrats, which could mean trouble for Crist down the road.  

Crist has doubled down on his efforts to woo Democratic voters and donors since the August 24 primary while Meek has worked to paint Crist as a conservative in the mold of Rubio.  

A CNN/Time poll out yesterday had Rubio and Crist in a dead heat, but it polled registered voters rather than likely voters. 


GOP holds 7-point generic ballot edge in new poll

Just a day after a Gallup poll found Democrats and Republicans even on the generic ballot question, a poll Wednesday gives the GOP a 7-point advantage.

The new poll from Democracy Corps, the Democratic group headed by James Carville and Stan Greenberg, found a generic ballot edge for Republicans among likely voters, 49 percent to 42 percent. 

The Democracy Corps poll also measured President Obama's approval at 45 percent. The poll was conducted between Aug. 30 and Sept. 2. Gallup's poll was in the field from Aug. 30 to Sept. 5.     

Gallup's numbers Tuesday had the parties tied at 46 percent on the generic ballot question. A week ago, Gallup found a 10-point edge for the GOP, which was the most significant advantage it has measured for either party in a midterm election since it began asking the question in 1942. 

It's hard to see Gallup's Tuesday numbers as a glimmer of hope for Democrats, given that Gallup is still surveying registered voters as opposed to likely voters. 

The two other major public polls released Tuesday — the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll and the ABC/Washington Post poll — both found Republican leads on the generic ballot question using a likely voter screen.

Democracy Corps measured both likely voters and what it termed "drop off voters" — those who voted in 2008 but are unlikely to vote this fall. 

Among the "drop off" voter group, Democrats hold a 47-40 lead on the generic ballot question. But among likely voters, Republicans lead 49-42.


Poll: Palin not the 'driving force' in Alaska Senate primary

A new Public Policy poll offers some reason to doubt former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's (R) impact on Alaska's Republican Senate primary. 

Palin endorsed Tea Party-backed Joe Miller (R), and the candidate credited her with his strong showing against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) last Tuesday. Miller is clinging to a lead of less than 2,000 votes as the counting of some 24,000 remaining ballots is about to get under way in Anchorage.  

But the poll found only 15 percent of those who voted for Miller called Palin's endorsement "very important" in determining their vote choice. A full 59 percent said Palin's backing of Miller didn't matter at all.

The more pressing factor appears to be concern among Alaska Republicans that the party is moving too far to the left. The poll found 47 percent of primary voters labeled Murkowski "too liberal." Among that group, 85 percent voted for Miller.  

"Joe Miller's victory was driven by conservatives who think their party and more specifically Lisa Murkowski have gotten too liberal," pollster Tom Jensen writes. "Tea Party identification in Alaska is actually not that high, but Miller's advantage with that group was so overwhelming it gave him the win. Palin's endorsement certainly helped Miller, and it's unlikely he could have won without it, but it doesn't appear to have been the driving force in his upset."

Of course the upset isn't complete just yet. The Murkowski camp is still holding out hope that thousands of yet to be counted absentee ballots will close the gap with Miller.   


Poll: Manchin's lead slim in W.Va. Senate race

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) was supposed to have an easy road to the Senate once Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) decided against challenging him in November's special election.

But the latest Rasmussen poll on the race shows Republican businessman John Raese within six points of the popular governor.

Manchin is running in a special election to fill out the remainder of the late Sen. Robert Byrd's (D) term.

The new poll gives Manchin 48 percent of the vote to Raese's 42. Another 4 percent prefer another candidate, and 7 percent remain undecided. The survey polled 500 likely voters and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percentage points.

An earlier Rasmussen poll on the special election had Manchin up 51-35.

Even though he holds just a six-point edge, Manchin's overall approval is high. The poll found that 70 percent of likely voters approve of the job Manchin is doing as governor.

So what's dragging Manchin down? Rasmussen suggests it's President Obama's unpopularity in the state, which Manchin's Republican opponent has made the hallmark of his campaign. Raese, who is expected to pour plenty of his own money into the campaign, has already run TV ads hitting the president.

Among the 34 percent of voters who just "somewhat approve" of the job Manchin is doing as governor, 64 percent strongly disapprove of the president's performance. Raese also holds a 45-40 edge among unaffiliated voters in the state.

The Raese campaign quickly trumpeted the results of the poll in an e-mail blast, while Manchin's camp dismissed Rasmussen as a "Republican pollster."


GOP maintains generic ballot edge

Republicans still hold a three-point generic ballot edge over Democrats, according to the latest tracking numbers from Gallup.

The latest numbers show 47 percent of registered voters saying they would vote for the Republican candidate in 2010 to 44 percent who say they would vote for the Democratic candidate. 

That's a drop from Gallup's tracking numbers last week, when the GOP held a seven-point lead, but Gallup notes that Republicans have held the advantage on the generic ballot question for each of the past four weeks — the first time that has happened this year.

Gallup's Jeff Jones writes: "The consistent Republican advantages are also notable from a historical perspective. In Gallup's 60-year history of asking the generic ballot question, it is rare for the Republicans to be ahead among all registered voters. In fact, last week's seven-point lead is the largest Gallup has measured for the Republican Party at any point in a midterm election year." 


Rep. Rodriguez challenger touts internal numbers

The congressional campaign of businessman Francisco Canseco (R) is touting new internal numbers it says have him leading Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas).

According to a poll for the campaign done by the firm On Message, Inc., Canseco leads 43 percent to 37 percent. The poll has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points. 

Canseco is on the National Republican Congressional Committee's list of "Young Guns," but Democrats have hammered him in recent weeks over hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax liens on several of his properties. 

Despite Republicans viewing the seat as a potential pick-up opportunity in the fall, Rodriguez is in a strong financial position ahead of November. The incumbent had more than $700,000 cash on had at the end of the second quarter. 


Rep. Pomeroy still trailing GOP challenger

North Dakota state Rep. Rick Berg (R) has widened his lead over Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) in a new poll.

Berg is up 53 percent to 44 for the incumbent in a new Rasmussen Reports survey of 500 likely voters that was conducted Aug. 10-11. Last month, Berg was ahead by three points. Pomeroy holds the state's only House seat.

Republicans in North Dakota are confident of picking him off, in part, because Gov. John Hoeven (R) will be at the top of the ticket as he's running for Senate. The popular governor has been polling 40 points ahead of his Democratic opponent.


Romney tops GOP '12 field

Mitt Romney continues to lead the pack of potential Republican challengers to President Obama in 2012, while more Democrats are starting to favor a new candidate. 

Romney has the support of 21 percent of respondents in a new CNN/Opinion Research poll released Friday. Sarah Palin was the respondents' second favorite at 18 percent and Newt Gingrich was third with 15 percent. The survey of close to 500 Republicans was conducted Aug. 6-10, which means it doesn't reflect any possible fallout from Marianne Gingrich's interview with Esquire magazine.

Meanwhile, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee fell from being the pack leader in April with 24 percent to getting only 14 percent in the new poll.

On the Democratic side, there was a slight uptick in respondents preferring a "different candidate" to Obama in 2012. Back in March, 20 percent said they would like a new nominee, while now 23 percent favor a candidate change. The White House has recently been engaged in a public war of words with the "professional left," but even his liberal critics doubt a candidate will step forward to launch a primary challenge to Obama.


Party identification edge erodes for Democrats

More states are set to be politically competitive in 2010 as fewer voters are identifying as Democrats.

New numbers from Gallup show 10 fewer states are considered “solid Democratic” this year compared to 2009, while an additional three states are now considered “solid Republican.”

The most politically competitive states in 2010, according to Gallup: Colorado, Mississippi, Missouri and Virginia. Each has a party ID gap of less than a single point.  

“The key finding at this juncture is that Democrats, not Republicans, have been the net losers as Americans shift away from the major parties,” wrote Gallup’s Frank Newport. “The overall result is a more competitive partisan environment this year than has been the case in the last two years, underscoring the potential for Republicans to do well and pick up seats in this year’s midterm elections.”

One caveat from Gallup — the state classifications are based on the political affiliations of “all residents,” not registered voters in a state. 

The results are based on interviews of more than 175,000 adults taken as part of Gallup’s daily tracking between January and June of this year.  

Nationwide, Democrats hold a 4-point party ID edge over Republicans this year — 44 percent to 40 percent. That’s down from the 8-point advantage the party held in 2009 and the 12-point edge it had in 2008.