JONATHAN CHAIT JANUARY 25, 2010
I continue to hear people saying that Martha Coakley’s defeat in Massachusetts had nothing or very little to do with the approval of the Obama administration in that state. For those who continue to adhere to this opinion, let’s look at some other states where the decline in a candidate’s polls can’t be explained away by the Democratic candidate’s ineptitude. What you find in those states is that in polling for the 2010 senate and gubernatorial elections, the Democrat was initially ahead but began to fall behind at roughly the same time as Obama’s approval ratings also began to fall.
Missouri: Democrat Senate candidate Robin Carnahan (from one of Missouri’s most popular political families) was running consistently ahead of Republican Roy Blunt until the red and blue lines began to cross last December. Here’s a chart from Pollster.com:
Now here’s a chart of Obama’s approval rating in the state:
Colorado: Democratic incumbent Senator Michael Bennet is facing an election battle against Ken Buck. Bennet’s edge began to go south in December, as this chart show.
Here is a chart of Obama’s approval rating in the state:
Ohio: Until late this fall, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, a Democrat, was well ahead of former Rep. Rob Portman, a Republican, in senate polls for 2010. Then, as this chart shows, Fisher’s rating dived.
Until this fall, incumbent Governor Ted Strickland was ahead of Republican former Rep. John Kasich. Then, as this chart shows, his standing slumped.
Here is a chart of Obama’s approval rating in the state. Note the similarities in the curve between this chart and the charts of the gubernatorial and senate races:
Pennsylvania: Incumbent Senator and nouveau Democrat Arlen Specter was once way ahead of former Rep. Pat Toomey. Now, as this chart shows, he trails.
Obama’s approval in the state, as shown in this chart. has fallen accordingly.
I am not saying that in all these cases, the Democratic candidates didn’t stumble, or that the Republican didn’t shine, but viewed as a whole, they present a picture of a national decline in public support for Democratic politics and for the Obama administration radiating outward from Washington and threatening Democratic candidates in states that Democrats must generally win to carry national elections.