Trends not in GOP favor

It hasn’t been a good month for Senate Republicans. 

In Connecticut, Republicans thought Democratic Attorney General Dick Blumenthal’s misstatement of his Vietnam record would give them a shot at picking up the seat. They proceeded to boot their own Vietnam hero candidate out of the primary, and settled on WWE baron Linda McMahon. New polling by Quinnipiac University (Blumenthal 56-31) and Research 2000 for Daily Kos (Blumenthal 52-33) shows this contest is still a Republican lost cause. 

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Illinois GOP Senate nominee Rep. Mark Kirk found himself in his own Blumenthal-like scandal, having spent the last decade claiming to have won “Navy Intelligence Officer of the Year” — an award that doesn’t even exist. In addition, he exaggerated his service, erroneously claiming to be a combat vet. Called out on the misstatements, Kirk scrubbed his website of the false claims and blamed them on a CV error, but he’d made those claims previously in a House committee hearing. Kirk wanted this race to be about Democrat Alexi Giannoulias’ bank, but now his own character is under examination.

Kentucky Republicans muzzled newly minted nominee Rand Paul, afraid his extremist views on the Civil Rights Act and other topics were costing him support. Research 2000 polling for Daily Kos showed little slippage in his support the week after his nomination. That’s the good news for the GOP. The bad news is the latest polling shows the race statistically tied. Had Republicans nominated Paul’s opponent, Trey Grayson, this race would be off the table. They’re stuck with a candidate who can’t open his mouth without sticking his (very principled!) foot in it.

In Nevada, the impossible appears to be happening — new polling shows Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid statistically tied with potential Republican opponents after previously trailing them all by double digits. The GOP is facing the prospect of nominating either Sue Lowden — national laughingstock for proposing the bartering of chickens for healthcare — or Sharron Angle, an extremist teabagger who wants to build nuclear power plants inside Yucca Mountain and was named “Worst Member” of the Nevada Assembly in 1999 and 2005 by the right-wing Las Vegas Review-Journal. Apparently, Nevada voters flirted with the idea of firing Reid — until they took a look at the opposition.

The Democratic nominee for Senate in Ohio, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, now leads former George W. Bush budget director Rob Portman, after trailing for most of the year. And in Pennsylvania, even right-leaning Rasmussen is showing Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak opening up a lead against Republican former Club for Growth president and former Rep. Pat Toomey. The previous Rasmussen poll in early May had Toomey leading Sestak 50-38. Now Sestak sports a 46-42 lead. 

In Colorado, Tea Party activists are about to nominate another of their crazies. Public Policy Polling has North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr statistically tied at 43-42 against likely Democratic nominee Elaine Marshall in a seat no incumbent has held since 1968. Arizona conservatives look ready to ditch Sen. John McCain in their primary, giving Democrats a legitimate chance against former Rep. J.D. Hayworth. Same thing in New Hampshire, where the GOP’s best chance to hold the seat, Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, is under fierce teabagger attack. Leading in recent polling, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is a serious threat to this Republican seat after quitting the GOP to run as an Independent and becoming the de facto Democratic candidate.

Republicans once dreamed of picking up nine, maybe even 10 seats. Today, they’d likely make a net gain of half that. And the trends are certainly not in their favor.

Moulitsas is founder and publisher of Daily Kos (www.dailykos.com).