Dissatisfaction with Dems buoys Republican in Murtha special election

Republicans bring a small lead into the final month of the contest for the late Rep. John Murtha's (D-Pa.) seat, according to a Public Policy Polling survey.

The Democratic-leaning pollster found businessman Tim Burns (R) leading former Murtha aide Mark Critz (D) 44-41, thanks to an electorate that is upset with the recently passed healthcare bill, President Obama and the Democratic leadership.

Obama's is approved by 33 percent of voters and disapproved by 57 percent. Slightly less (28 percent) approve of the healthcare bill, and less than a quarter (24 percent) approve of Gov. Ed Rendell (D).

Burns uses those advantages to build a 51-31 lead among independents and grab twice as much crossover support as Critz.

Though the district is heavily Democratic, it's clear that it's a different brand of Democrat than exists elsewhere. Less than half -- 43 percent -- of them approve of the healthcare bill, and just 50 percent approve of Obama.

A GOP poll obtained by The Fix on Tuesday also showed a statistical tie in the race, with Critz maintaining a 40-39 lead.


Healthcare bill very unpopular in Murtha's district

If Republican Tim Burns can win the special election to replace Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), we may be talking about it as a repudiation of the healthcare bill.

It turns out the bill is tremendously unpopular in the district. That is, according to a sneak peek of a poll that is set to be released tomorrow by Public Policy Polling (D):

Some Democrats may not be thrilled Mark Critz is emphasizing his opposition to the health care bill as he seeks to replace John Murtha in the House, but after polling the district it's hard to see that as anything but necessary for survival. Only 28% of voters in the district express support for it with 59% opposed. Even Democrats there support it by just a 43/39 margin.

Obama's overall approval rating in the district is 33%, with 57% of voters disapproving of him. It's hard to imagine any Democrat winning an open seat this year where the President is that unpopular but it's still a close race. We'll have the full numbers out tomorrow.


Financial regulatory reform can help Dems with 'angry' seniors

Pushing financial regulatory reform can help Democrats win over "angry" seniors and close the enthusiasm gap with the GOP, according to Celinda Lake, one of the party's leading pollsters.

"Seniors are a problem," Lake said at a Wednesday breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. "Seniors really dislike the healthcare plan. They're very Republican right now."

President Barack Obama lost seniors to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) by 9 points in 2008 but the group now prefers the GOP over Democrats by double-digits, Lake noted.

"We can’t have seniors as angry as they are right now," she said. "A major task [for Democrats] is to sell the healthcare plan to seniors."

She said that winning seniors over to the benefits of healthcare reform should be the Obama administration's top priority. "I think they need to get [Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius and the whole cabinet on the road selling the healthcare reform package," she said.


Support for incumbents hits record low in Gallup poll

A record low number of registered voters said they would vote to send most members of Congress back to Washington, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

Only 28 percent said that most incumbents deserve reelection, though 49 percent said that their own members of Congress deserves another term. That number is a "near-record low."

The previous low for incumbent support for Gallup was 29 percent, back in 1992. alt

"Voters' anti-incumbent mood is like nothing Gallup has seen in the past four midterm election cycles," Gallup analysts wrote. "While that could have a negative impact on incumbents from both parties, the greater exposure of the Democrats by virtue of their majority status means greater risk for their candidates."

Democrats admit that the fall midterms will be tough, but have maintained confidence they will hold their majorities in Congress. The party has encouraged its members who supported the healthcare bill to tout their votes on the campaign trail even though it receives split support in polling.

Many Republican leaders have predicted they will win back the House and have said Democrats in tight races who voted yes for healthcare will be doomed in the fall.

The poll was taken of 968 registered voters between March 26-28, after Congress voted to pass contentious healthcare legislation.

Before healthcare passed, incumbent support also reached a new low in the CBS News/New York Times poll, with 8 percent saying they would support incumbents.


GOP pulls ahead with slight lead in generic ballot

Republicans have taken the lead over Democrats in Gallup's latest generic ballot poll, released Thursday.

By a 47 to 44 percent margin, those polled favor the Republicans, the first time the party has lead the Democrats since Gallup started asking the question earlier this month. The number falls just within the poll's 3 percent margin of error.

The survey was taken from March 22-28, after Democrats in Congress passed the $940 billion healthcare overhaul. In the aftermath of the vote, Democrats claimed the momentum in Capitol Hill and said they would talk up the benefits of the the law as a means of winning votes in the fall.

But Gallup analysts say that the poll shows that touting the law could still pose political risks for the Democrats.

"The shift toward Republicans raises the possibility that the healthcare bill had a slightly negative impact on the Democrats' political fortunes in the short run," they wrote.

Voter enthusiasm is also up for both parties, but the Republicans hold a significant lead there as well, 50 percent to 35 percent. Last week, those figures were at 43 percent and 25 percent for th GOP and Democrats respectively. 

"Over the past four midterm elections, the party with the net advantage in enthusiasm has typically been the one to gain congressional seats in the election," Gallup analysts wrote, though it is not clear that it will translate to Republicans taking enough seats to win back the House.


Blunt opens small lead in Missouri Senate race

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) has built a lead over Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) in Missouri's Senate race.

The first numbers released after the healthcare bill was signed into law show Blunt opening up a 45-41 lead. The same firm who conducted the poll, Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, had Carnahan up 43-42 in November.

Much of Blunt's lead appears to be a symptom of President Obama's approval in the state. More than half -- 52 percent -- of voters disapprove of Obama, while 43 percent approve. Blunt also leads among independents, 47-35.

But Carnahan maintains superior favorability numbers, at 38 percent positive and 43 percent negative. With Blunt, those numbers are not great -- 25 percent and 41 percent, respectively.

Unlike other races, the Missouri Senate race hasn't see a great deal in the way of public polling.


Lt. Gov. Fisher continues to lead in Ohio Senate Democratic primary

Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher continues to carry a lead down the stretch in his Democratic Senate primary with Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, but he has hardly closed the door yet.

Fisher leads Brunner 33-26 in a new Quinnipiac poll, which finds the two of them still unknown to large percentages of voters. Fisher would appear to have more power to build his name ID, by virtue of his vastly superior war chest ($1.8 million to $60,000, at year's end).

Fisher leads among both men and women, and women voters say Brunner's gender, which is generally seen as an asset, has basically no impact on their vote.

It's becoming about time for Fisher to make his move, with just five weeks until their May 4 primary. Expectations are high, and observers will be looking at his performance for tips about how he might do in a general election with former Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

Voting begins today.

Ohio voters have the option of submitting absentee ballots in person or through the mail without submitting a reason for the absentee request, and they can do this up to 35 days prior to the election.

The Ohio voting laws were the topic of discussion in the 2008 presidential election, when the then-battleground state of Ohio adopted laws also allowing for same-day registration for voters, praised by the Obama campaign and contested by the GOP. 

Jennifer Switft contributed to this report.


Dem base backs healthcare, seniors say it's a 'bad thing'

It looks like healthcare reform, or opposition to it, plays well for each party's base.

A new Gallup Daily tracking poll conducted after Sunday's vote showed young people and low-income adults support the measure while older people with higher incomes do not. Here's Gallup's breakdown: