NBC/Marist Releases New Senate Polls With Mixed News For The GOP & Dems
September 7, 2014

So as I've said before, I do election coverage on Daily Kos and I highlighted the latest batch of polling to come out this morning courtesy of NBC/Marist. The latest polls show mixed news for both parties in three competitive Senate races. First the bad news for Team Blue:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has a significant lead over his Democratic challenger, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, according a NBC/Marist poll released Sunday.

Among likely voters, 47 percent said they would support McConnell and 39 percent said they would back Lundergan Grimes. McConnell's lead was just one point smaller among registered voters.

NBC/Marist surveyed 691 likely voters with a margin of error plus or minus 3.7 percentage points and 1,184 registered voters with a margin or error plus or minus 2.8 percentage points. The poll was conducted Sept. 2-4 via phone.

It's important to remember that it's more important to pay attention to the Registered Voters numbers over the Likely Voters numbers. RVs are more dedicated to voting whereas LVs are less likely to vote. Now Kentucky is a red state but McConnell's approvals have been dismal and he's been hit with bad press lately from being caught thanking the Koch Brothers and his own campaign manager being busted in a bribery scandal. Lately, McConnell's been turning some ISIS fear mongering against Grimes in his latest ad. This could be an outlier or it very well could be voters coming home to McConnell but if I were Grimes, I would do what Senator Mark Pryor (D. AR) is doing and run on the ACA. A bold move for a red state Democrat but a smart one when you look at how Kentucky's health exchange program, Kynect (A.K.A. Obamacare), is doing wonders for the people of Kentucky. Still time left in this race but it's slipping and Grimes should take the memo expecially since even McConnell now doesn't want to talk about Obamacare.

Now the bad news for Team Red:

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) has a six point lead over challenger Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) in the Colorado Senate race, according to a NBC/Marist poll released on Sunday.

Among likely voters, 48 percent said they would vote for Udall and 42 percent said they would vote for Gardner. And with registered voters, Udall led gardner by eight points.

NBC/Marist surveyed 795 likely voters in Colorado with a margin of error plus or minus 3.5 percentage points and 976 registered voters with a margin of error plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. The poll was conducted Sept. 2-4 via phone.

The GOP lucked out with a strong candidate in Gardner making this race competitive for Udall but the issues are what's really hurting Gardner. Like his past support for Personhood Amendments which are highly unpopular and the amendment is back on the ballot in Colorado this year. Add in immigration reform and climate change to the mix and it's no wonder Udall is pulling ahead. The Koch Brothers have been spending big on this race so anything can happen between now and November. So keep your eyes on this race.

And finally, some mixed news today out of Arkansas for both parties

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) gained a lead over incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) with likely voters in the Arkansas senate race in a new NBC/Marist poll released Sunday.

Among likely voters, 45 percent said they would support Cotton and 40 percent said they would support Pryor. But with registered voters, the candidates were tied 41-41 for voters' support.

NBC/Marist surveyed 691 likely voters with a margin of error plus or minus 3.9 percentage points and 1,068 registered voters with a margin of error plus or minus 3 percentage points. The poll was conducted via phone Sept. 2-4.

CNN also released their poll two days ago that showed Cotton leading Pryor amongst Likely Voters but Pryor leading leading Cotton amongst Registered Voters. To get a better idea of which voters are more reliable, check out the article from FiveThirtyEight on this issue from 2012. Like I mentioned before, Pryor has been running on Obamacare because Arkansas has seen a huge drop in the uninsured rate thanks to the ACA. Democrats have been hitting Cotton for wanting to end the Private Option. Pryor has also been hitting Cotton on his votes against disaster relief (especially after Arkansas getting hit by tornados) and for wanting to gut Social Security. Senior Citizens have been Pryor's most reliable voting block and Pryor has been against cuts to Social Security including the chained CPI since the beginning. This is one of the closest races to watch and no one should write off Pryor because while he's not the most progressive Democrat in the Senate, he's certainly no Blanche Lincoln (D. AR).

September and October are the months where the campaigns really start to heat up so expect more polling numbers that are either consistent or all over the place. It's important Democrats hold onto the Senate. We won't get the 60 seats we need this year but we can get them in 2016. Republicans are looking likely to win open seats in Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota and we have competitive races in Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina, Alaska, Georgia and Louisiana and of course things just got interesting in Kansas. But I certainly encourage you to get involved with Grimes, Udall and Pryor's campaigns.

UPDATE: For a more accurate comparison between LVs and RVs determining who's more accurate, please read Steve Singler's Daily Kos analysis.

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