All throughout today, I've been having fun reading polling data in some of the Arizona races for the 2010 midterms in November. It's starting to get really interesting in a few different races, and I thought I'd share a few viewpoints with my loyal readers.
First, nationally speaking, if the election were to be held today, most of the spreads I've seen have the Senate split 49-49 with 2 too close to determine, and have the House split 218-217 in favor of the Democrats. This represents a major shift in public perception of politics and of Congress (and, further, of the President) over just the last two years. Consider for a moment that in 2006 the Democrats took overwhelming control of the House and Senate, and in 2008 completed the trifecta by winning the White House. In fact, the Democratic Party had a 59-40-1 supermajority (with the one Independent caucusing with the Democrats) in the Senate just two years back. Now, projections indicate that they will lose at least 8 seats. In the House, the Democratic Party currently holds a 255-178 advantage with 2 vacancies, but Republicans are being projected to gain around 35 seats this year to even the score.
Why the shift? I believe it is a combination of the anti-incumbency movement sweeping the nation combined with a distaste for the recent policies pushed forth by the Democratic Congress. A failing economy combined with a massive, flawed stimulus has left a very bitter taste in the mouths of the Independents who voted anti-Republican in 2006 and who got swept up in Obamania in '08.
For me, it's very evident in Arizona, where four of the top contested races in the country are going on right now: Arizona's 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 8th congressional districts.
CD-01 pits first-term Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick against challenger Dr. Paul Gosar, a northern Arizona dentist and Arizona Dental Association leader in governmental affairs. The most recent poll done for this race was completed back on August 29, 11 days ago, and shows Gosar leading Kirkpatrick 47% to 41%, despite 54% of respondents saying that they had never heard of Gosar. Considering all the attention that the Kirkpatrick campaign gave to Rusty Bowers in the primary election even though Bowers wasn't likely to win the nomination, Gosar stands a decent chance to unseat Kirkpatrick this cycle.
CD-03 is closely watched this election because it's the seat being vacated this year by Republican John Shadegg. Even though I haven't read any polls on the matchup of Republican Ben Quayle, son of former VP Dan Quayle, versus Democrat John Hulburd, most places expect the seat to remain solidly in the GOP column after November 2nd.
CD-05 intrigues me most of all the Arizona races right now because David Schweikert (R) is currently polling ahead of Harry Mitchell (D) 50-44% according to an American Action Forum/Ayers poll I found on http://www.realclearpolitics.com/. The 400-likely-voter sample of people in the Tempe, Scottsdale, and Fountain Hills areas seems to indicate both that the economy/unemployment/jobs is far and away the #1 issue in the district (as opposed to 7% answering illegal immigration and healthcare) and that voters in CD-5 distrust Mitchell to be able to lead in fixing that problem. Indeed Mitchell's favorable/unfavorable rating is 42%/46% - within the margin of error by 0.9% but also not exactly good for him.
CD-08 also lists good numbers for the Republican candidate Jesse Kelly over incumbent Gabrielle Giffords - a deadlock 46-46%. As in CD-5, voters listed the economy as their #1 issue and have unfavorable opinions of Giffords and her politics.
There is a good possibility that the GOP could gain all four of these seats back (okay, in the case of CD-3 it'd be a hold) during this election cycle and return the state to a 6 Republican, 2 Democrat red state again (currently we sit as a 3 Republican, 5 Democrat blue/purple state since 2006). A lot of that probably has to do with the popular SB1070 immigration law, which many Republican candidates this year have been very quick to support and defend against the Obama administration lawsuits and Democratic "boycotts" which have been threatening the Arizona economy. Combine the bad economy with the stupid lawsuit from Obama and a multi-billion-dollar "stimulus" package that hasn't done much of anything yet, and it's not hard to see why anyone would vote in favor of the Democratic status quo this year.
The other interesting polling data I saw today was on the Arizona gubernatorial race - Brewer vs. Goddard - in which Brewer leads Goddard by 60% to 38%, up from 57-38 two weeks ago, and which has continued rising since the last poll showing Goddard ahead was conducted back in early May, 2010. Again, this one is no surprise: it's all because Brewer is riding the SB1070 wave, and even despite her, shall we say, pitiable debate performance against the current Attorney General she's projected to cruise to victory in the next 8 weeks.