Dem polls show shutdown hurt GOP chances in Senate races

In all of the tested states, voters oppose the government shutdown by lopsided margins, a sign that the shutdown may be damaging Republicans' electoral chances.

Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) all hold leads over their GOP opponents in the surveys, conducted by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.

Landrieu leads Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) 48 percent to 41 percent. That lead grows to 52 percent to 42 percent after voters are informed about the candidates' positions on the shutdown. Pryor leads 44 percent to 41 percent over Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and that lead remains steady after the shutdown questions are asked. Hagan leads a generic Republican challenger 47 percent to 42 percent, and that lead jumps to 49 percent to 41 percent when voters are told she opposed the shutdown.

Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) leads former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) 43 percent to 36 percent, and that lead jumps to 50 percent to 36 percent when voters are told he opposed the shutdown. Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) holds a lead of 45 percent to 41 percent over a generic Republican candidate, and that expands to 46 percent to 39 percent when voters are told he opposed the shutdown.

Georgia's Senate race could also be affected by the shutdown. Democrat Michelle Nunn starts off tied at 42 percent with a generic Republican in the race. When voters are told that three of her potential opponents, Reps. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) and Paul Broun (R-Ga.) all supported the GOP position on the shutdown, she opens up a 6 percentage point lead.

Partisan polls should always be read with some amount of skepticism, and the way the question is worded seems to place the blame completely on the GOP, which may not be how voters view the situation and could inflate Democrats' standing in some of the later ballot tests. The shutdown appears to be nearing its conclusion, as well, and it's unclear how much this debate will impact an election that's more than a year away.

But nonpartisan national polling has found that voters blame the GOP much more for the shutdown than Democrats, and these results indicate that the ongoing shutdown may be badly hurting Republicans' hopes of winning a majority in the Senate next year.

"These polls make it clear that across the country, whether a state voted for Obama by 10 points or voted for Romney by 20, voters are extremely angry about the government shutdown. And it’s going to make Republican hopes of taking back the Senate next year that much harder," writes PPP pollster Tom Jensen in the memo.

--This report was updated at 1:59 p.m.