Halvorson trails in first post-healthcare poll

If this is any indication of where the healthcare debate has left Democrats, they could be in trouble.

Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-Ill.) trails her reelection race by six points in the first public House poll conducted after the healthcare debate.

The Public Opinion Strategies (R) poll for Iraq veteran Adam Kinzinger (R), which is set to be released widely, shows him leading Halvorson 44-38. The congresswoman is largely unknown, with a 33 percent favorability rating and 31 percent unfavorable.

The poll was conducted Sunday and Monday -- straddling the big healthcare vote -- among 400 likely voters in Halvorson's district. The pitched nature of hte healthcare vote probably speaks to the fact that, while 52 percent disapproved of Obama in the poll, 38 percent of all voters strongly disapproved of him.

Havorson voted for the bill.

If the numbers are accurate, it casts the race in a new light. While Kinzinger has been endorsed by the NRCC, he hasn't yet raised big money yet and is running in an expensive district. Halvorson is generally viewed as a second-tier target.

But it appears Halvorson, like so many other Democrats right now, is suffering under the weight of a difficult environment. The generic ballot in the poll shows Republicans enjoying a 43-33 lead, and President Obama's approval rating is just 45 percent in the district, despite Illinois being his home state.


A Wisconsin tossup

The Wisconsin Senate race looks like a tossup if former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) gets in.

A new Public Policy Polling (D) survey shows Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) leading Thompson 47-44 in a hypothetical matchup. Other recent polls have shown a lead for Thompson. PPP has shown some movement toward Thompson, after Feingold led 50-41 in November.

Thompson does have a slightly worse personal numbes, with a 40 percent favorable rating and 44 percent unfavorable. Feingold's approval remains positive but under 50 percent, at 45 percent approval and 41 percent disapproval.

Recent projections have put the possibility of Thompson running at 50-50 or better.


Poll: Majority of Americans disapprove of Obama

As President Obama gets set to sign the Democrats' healthcare reform bill, a new CNN poll shows that for the first time a majority of Americans disapprove of his job performance.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Monday, 51 percent of respondents disapprove of the president's job performance while 46 percent approve. The survey of some 1,000 registered voters was conducted before the healthcare bill passed the House on Sunday.

Still, Obama remains personally popular – 70 percent of respondents said they approve of him "as a person." And it's that statistic that vulnerable Democrats are likely considering as the campaign season starts.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said last week that the president will soon be out on the trail. "I expect this President will spend a lot of time on the campaign trail when it's time to spend time on the campaign trail," Gibbs told reporters.


A jumbled Michigan governor's race

Things are getting very interesting in Michigan, where a crowded GOP primary field looks wide open at this point.

State Attorney General Mike Cox and Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) are now in an effective three-way tie with businessman Rick Snyder, whose personal money and “One Tough Nerd” campaign slogan have boosted him early on.

A new Inside Michigan Politics/Marketing Research Group poll shows the erstwhile frontrunner Cox at 21 percent, with Hoekstra also at 21 and Snyder at 20. Mike Bouchard, who you might recall challenged Sen. Debbie Stabenow in 2006, is at 10 percent.

This is Michigan, but it’s also a top takeover hope for the Republican Governors Association. Democrats have struggled with the economy going sour and the auto industry’s troubles.

Lt. Gov. John Cherry (D) found he couldn’t overcome those things and yielded to some lesser known Democratic candidates earlier this year.

The poll shows state House Speaker Andy Dillon leading Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero 21-9 in an undeveloped Democratic primary.


Meek's potential

One of the real beneficiaries of Charlie Crist's fall from grace has been Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.). And now that Marco Rubio is getting beat up too, the door is open even more for the Democrat.

A new Research 2000 poll for the liberal website Daily Kos shows Rubio leading Meek 41-40 in a head-to-head matchup. And with Rubio ahead 58-30 in the primary, that appears to be the most likely general election matchup.

Rubio is unknown to 35 percent of voters, while Meek is unknown to 57 percent of voters, yet both men have approval ratings between 25 and 30 percent. Once Meek becomes better known (he is raising good money), who's to say he won't show a lead in the general?

Meek is also right in the race if Crist were to run as an indepenent, with Rubio at 32, Crist at 29 and Meek at 27.

Watch out for Meek's upside.


DSCC candidate gaining in North Carolina

Cal Cunningham, the hand-picked DSCC candidate to face Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), appears to be closing the gap in his primary.

A new Public Policy Polling (D) survey shows the former state senator and Iraq veteran within four points of Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, who leads 20-16. Attorney Kenneth Lewis is at 11 percent.

A month ago, the same pollster had Marshall up 29-12. Marshall's campaign released a poll this week that showed her leading 31-5, but the poll was conducted in February, so it appears Cunningham has gained ground since then.

Cunningham suffers from a lack of name ID and has been stuck in the single-digits in most polling on the race. But Marshall's candidacy does nothing for national Democrats, who fought hard to recruit another candidate for the race.

Marshall has struggled to raise money for the race, so it will be tough for her to hold a lead if things get close. There's also the matter of whether the DSCC needs to get involved (like it did on behalf of now-Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley in his 2008 primary) to get its preferred candidate through the primary.

(Side note: PPP did a poll for Marshall's campaign this cycle, but the last two polls were both conducted independently.

UPDATE: I should have also noted that PPP president Dean Debnam has contributed to Cunningham's campaign. PPP is a Democratic-leaning firm based in North Carolina, so these ties aren't out-of-the-blue. But they should be noted.)


Poll flux: Toomey back on top

When it comes to the Pennsylvania Senate race, it really depends upon whom you ask.

After a pair of polls showing Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) leading former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) came out last week, a new one shows Toomey right back in the lead.

Susquehanna has Toomey ahead 42-36. The same poll in October had Specter up 42-41. The October poll tested registered voters, which has generally cast Specter in a better light, while the newer poll was conducted among likely voters.

Specter's primary opponent, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), was not tested in either a Democratic primary or the general election, for some reason.


Romanoff within six of Bennet

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) appears to have a real primary on his hands.

Public Policy Polling (D) is out with a poll showing former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff within six points of Bennet, trailing 40-34.

Romanoff is also looking for a bump in the state's precinct caucuses, which begin Tuesday. A solid poll like this could be what he needs to prove to people that he has a chance, amidst some less-than-stellar fundraising.

On the GOP side, things are more wide open. Former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton leads Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck 34-17, while 7 percent go for former state Sen. Tom Wiens.


Specter is back

Maybe that Quinnipiac poll wasn't an outlier.

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) has overtaken former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) in a second-straight poll, showing a 47-41 lead in a Research 2000 poll for the liberal website Daily Kos.

Quinnipiac had Specter up 49-42 last week, but the two polls are the first since October to show the incumbent with a lead. Toomey had shown leads upwards of double digits in some polls.

It's hard to see what might have provided Specter with such a bump, but his favorability numbers have rebounded remarkably. Research 2000 has him at 48 percent favorability. Late last year, he was stuck in the 30s with high unfavorables.

Specter holds a 51-32 lead over Rep. Joe Sestak in their May 18 primary. Toomey leads Sestak 42-39 in another potential general election matchup.