Polls: Republicans lead in 5 key Senate races

Republicans have leads in five crucial Senate races, according to new polling conducted for the GOP-aligned group American Crossroads.

The automated surveys from Harper Polling find Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) trailing GOP opponents, as well as Republicans holding leads in Democratic-held open seats in Montana and Michigan. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) is tied with her most likely opponent, while Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) has a lead in her race.

Partisan polling is typically taken with a grain of salt. That said, these polls show President Obama's weak standing is a major problem for Democrats in these red and swing states — and that Republicans have a strong shot at winning the net of six seats they need to take back the Senate.

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Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) leads Pryor by 42 percent to 36 percent in the race Republicans feel most confident about winning. President Obama's state approval rating is just 31 percent in the poll, which is in line with other surveys of Arkansas.

Landrieu is statistically tied with Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) in a head-to-head matchup — Cassidy has a one-point lead, pulling 45 percent to Landrieu's 44 percent.

Alaska Lieutenant Gov. Mead Treadwell (R) leads Begich by 47 percent to 41 percent.

Leading Begich with the same numbers is well-funded former Alaska Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan (R). Sullivan isn't as well-known statewide as Treadwell at this point, but has raised money at a much faster clip since he entered the race and has quickly emerged as the establishment's preferred candidate.

Former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) leads Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) by 42 percent to 37 percent to take that state's open seat, though President Obama's 38 percent approval rating in the poll is lower than what others have found in the state.

In Montana, Rep. Steve Daines (R) holds a commanding 14-point lead over Lt. Gov. John Walsh (D), who many expect will be appointed to former Sen. Max Baucus's (D-Mont.) seat later on Friday.

Hagan is tied with North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) at 44 percent apiece, while in New Hampshire, Shaheen leads former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) by 40 percent to 35 percent.

A Crossroads spokesman didn't say if the group polled in Georgia or Kentucky, two Republican-controlled states with competitive races. Groups often poll in a number of places and release the numbers that are best for them.

The automated polls were all conducted in late January.