The political outlook in the industrial Midwest could change significantly before November, but as of today, the Republican Party is on the verge of a major comeback. The present survey research data is better than 1994 when the GOP reclaimed both the House and Senate. The polling numbers have not been this good for Republicans in the battleground Big 10 states since 1966.
In 2008, Barack Obama carried the entire Big 10. These states represent 117 of the 270 electoral votes necessary to elect a President. Now the outlook has been reversed dramatically. According to a memo released today by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling:
If the election was today Democrats would likely lose something they currently hold in every state where they have something to lose- Pennsylvania Governor and perhaps Senate, Michigan Governor, Ohio Governor, Indiana Senate, Iowa Governor, Wisconsin Governor and perhaps Senate, and Illinois Senate and/or Governor. Only Minnesota doesn’t join the party because Democrats have nothing to lose there.
Polling in every Big 10 state indicates a landslide is in formation.
- OHIO GOVERNOR: Former Rep. John Kasich (R) leads Gov. Ted Strickland (D) by a 42-37 margin. Just 33% of voters approve of Strickland, with 47% disapproving. His own party is not enthusiastic about the Governor and he has poor numbers with independents at 28/54.
- OHIO SENATE: In a Public Policy Polling survey out today, former Rep. Rob Portman (R) is leading Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D) by a 41% to 36% margin. Only 40% approve of President Obama while 53% disapprove.
- PENNSYLVANIA SENATE: A new Franklin & Marshall College Poll shows former Rep. Pat Toomey (R) with a 33% to 29% lead over Sen. Arlen Specter (D).
- PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR: Attorney General Tom Corbett (R) has an 18 point lead over his closest Democratic opponent. The frontrunning Democrat is Allegheny County executive Dan Onorato who trails by a 46% to 28% margin.
- WISCONSIN SENATE: A survey of 700 voters, conducted March 20-21 by Public Policy Polling, shows Sen. Russ Feingold (D) narrowly ahead of former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) by a 47-44 percent margin. In November, Feingold held a 47 percent to 41 percent edge. Thompson was Governor from 1987 to 2001.
- WISCONSIN GOVERNOR: A poll conducted last weekend of 700 likely voters by Public Policy Polling showed Mark Neumann (R) with 43% and Tom Barrett (D) with 38%. Republican Scott Walker topped Barrett 42%-39%. Neumann is a former congressman, Walker is the Milwaukee County executive and Barrett is the Milwaukee mayor and a former congressman. Neumann came close to defeating Sen. Feingold in 1998, and among Independents he is leading this year by 43%-26%. Gov. Jim Doyle (D) has a 29%-58% approval/disapproval rating.
- INDIANA SENATE: This seat should have been an easy Democratic retention until Sen. Evan Bayh (D) bolted just days before the filing deadline. A new Rasmussen Reports survey released Tuesday shows Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D) trailing all of the top three Republican candidates. According to the survey, former Sen. Dan Coats (R) leads Ellsworth 49% to 34%. One of the major issues hurting Ellsworth is his decision to support the health care reform package.
- ILLINOIS GOVERNOR: A Rasmussen poll released 10 days ago found Sen. Bill Brady (R) leading Gov. Pat Quinn (D) 47 percent to 37 percent, with 6 percent preferring another candidate and 9 percent undecided.
- ILLINOIS SENATE: This is Barack Obama’s old seat. Perhaps the only person that could win the seat for the GOP, Rep. Mark Kirk, is now the Republican nominee. This should have been a safe seat for the Democrats but now it is in tossup status. The Democatic nominee, State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, already has high negatives.
- IOWA GOVERNOR: Terry Branstad (R), who was Iowa’s governor from 1983 to 1999, continues to hold a double-digit lead over Gov. Chet Culver (D) in the campaign to win back his old job, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll conducted March 17. Branstad runs ahead of Culver by 52 percent to 36 percent, with 6 percent preferring another choice and 6 percent undecided. Branstad also had a 16 point lead in mid February.
- MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: Term-limited incumbent Jennifer Granholm (D) is retiring. The bad news for Democrats is that all three candidates in the GOP primary have commanding leads of at least 15% in the general election.
- MINNESOTA GOVERNOR: The Rasmussen poll of March 12th shows GOP State Reps. Marty Seifert and Tom Emmer both holding their own against the better-known Democratic front-runners: former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher. The race is essentially even and the poll found a huge number of voters haven’t decided on a favorite.
- THE 2012 PRESIDENTIAL OUTLOOK:
- To win the presidency in 2012 the GOP will need to receive at least 30 of the 117 electoral votes in the Big 10. In 2000, George W. Bush was narrowly able to achieve that goal by winning Indiana (12) and Ohio (21). At that time there were GOP Governors in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania and California, but Bush lost all of those states.
- The pattern was repeated in 2004 and Bush was then able to add Iowa (7) to his total. Once again, McCain won none of the Big 10 states in 2008. The 2012 GOP presidential nominee will probably look to the Big 10 for a running mate, and top contenders might be Ohio’s Rob Portman or Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett.