Three embattled Republican senators have opened up substantial leads on their Democratic challengers, new polling by Quinnipiac University suggests, discrediting assertions from pundits that Donald Trump will be Kryptonite in down-ballot races.
The polls in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida come on the heels of Quinnipiac surveys suggesting the presumptive GOP nominee for president is running even or ahead of Democrat Hillary Clinton in all of those crucial states.
“Donald Trump won every county [in Pennsylvania]. He’s generated a lot of enthusiasm among the Republican base.”
“Many talking heads have suggested that with Donald Trump at the top of the GOP ticket, Republican Senate candidates might suffer,” Quinnipiac University Poll Assistant Director Peter Brown said in a statement. “But at least in these three key states, the Republican Senate candidates are running ahead of Trump and don’t seem to be hurt by their shared party label.”
The polling suggests that:
- Sen. Marco Rubio leads Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy 50 percent to 37 percent and Rep. Alan Grayson 50 percent to 38 percent in Florida.
- Sen. Rob Portman leads former Gov. Ted Strickland 47 percent to 40 percent in Ohio.
- Sen. Pat Toomey leads Democrat Katie McGinty 49 percent to 39 percent in Pennsylvania.
In addition, more respondents view President Obama unfavorably than favorably in all three states.
Not only are Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida vital to the presidential election — no candidate has won the White House since 1960 without carrying at least two of them — but they also figure prominently in the battle for the Senate. Toomey and Portman have long been considered among the most endangered Republican senators up for re-election this year. Florida was also considered a prime Democratic pickup opportunity until Rubio’s last-minute decision to reverse his earlier plan to step down after the end of his term.
It will be difficult for the Democrats to win back control of the upper chamber without winning those contests.
For months, political experts and Trump’s critics have been warning that his nomination would do significant damage to the party. Erick Erickson, a conservative activist and one of the leaders of the #NeverTrump movement, made the case again this week.
[lz_table title=”Vulnerable GOP senators?” source=”Quinnipiac University”]July 14 Senate polls
Rob Portman (R),47%
Ted Strickland (D),40%
Pat Toomey (R),49%
Katie McGinty (D),39%
Marco Rubio (R),50%
Patrick Murphy (D),37%
Marco Rubio (R),50%
Patrick Murphy (D),38%
“Not only will Donald Trump not win, but his nomination assures the GOP of losing the Senate and potentially the House,” he wrote on his website. “His nomination jeopardizes Republican holds on governor’s mansions and state legislatures.”
But the actual evidence of a brewing wave election for the Democrats is hard to detect. The latest RealClearPolitics polling roundup shows Democrats maintain a 2-point lead over Republicans among voters asked which party’s candidate they planned to vote for in House races. That margin is too narrow to make it likely for Democratic to make the kinds of gains necessary to flip partisan control of the chamber — or pick up enough seats to even get close.
The RCP average in Senate races suggests Toomey and Portman have small leads, while Rubio enjoys a more comfortable advantage.
And Trump himself is enjoying a mini-polling surge since FBI Director James Comey detailed serious lapses in Clinton’s handling of classified information as secretary of state. A Rasmussen survey released Thursday gave him a 7-point lead over Clinton, while a CBS News/New York Times polls had it tied. An Economist/YouGov poll showed Clinton with a 2-point advantage.
James Gimpel, a University of Maryland political scientist, said it is unlikely Trump will drag down many Republicans and could even help in some states.
“There are enough voters who are sophisticated enough in their thinking that they will be able to see that Donald Trump and his views are separable from their Republican senators,” he said. “More likely, it will be a wash.”
Megan Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Republican Party, said Republican senators deserve a lot of the credit for their current standing with voters.
“They’re running their own campaigns,” she said. “People know Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania.”
Sweeney rejected the notion that Trump at the top of the ticket hurts other Pennsylvania Republicans. She pointed to his blowout win in the Keystone State’s GOP primary.
“Donald Trump won every county,” she said. “He’s generated a lot of enthusiasm among the Republican base.”