Poll: House majority is up for grabs in 2012

A new survey from Democracy Corps, a group headed by Democratic strategists Stan Greenberg and James Carville, suggests the House is very much in play for Democrats in 2012. 

Democracy Corps polled in 50 Republican-held congressional districts, the vast majority of which voted for President Obama in the 2008 election. GOP freshmen hold 35 of the districts, and the poll found that most remain largely unknown and show clear signs of vulnerability ahead of 2012. 

Democrats must net 25 seats next year to regain control of the House. 

The poll found the Republican incumbents had an average approval rating of just 35 percent across the 50 districts surveyed. Another 38 percent didn't have an opinion on their lawmaker, and the average number of respondents who said they would vote to reelect the GOP incumbent was just 40 percent. 

The conclusion, according to Democracy Corps: "These incumbents are in a weaker position than Democratic incumbents were, even in late 2009, or Republican incumbents were in 2007." 


Poll: Sen. Sherrod Brown leads potential GOP opponents by double digits

A new poll shows Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in better shape heading into 2012 than the first term senator looked at the end of last year. 

Brown, who's expected to be a top Republican target next year, currently leads all of his rumored GOP opponents by at least 15 points, according to numbers from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP). 

Brown leads Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and comedian Drew Carey by 15 points — 49 percent to 34 percent. Carey was floated as a candidate by a libertarian group earlier this year, but has denied any interest in a Senate run.  

Other rumored contenders trail Brown by larger margins. Brown leads State Treasurer Josh Mandel 48 percent to 32 percent, Rep. Steve LaTourette 48 percent to 30 percent and he leads both Rep. Jim Jordan and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor by 19 points.      

It marks an improvement for Brown from PPP's numbers taken late last year. In December, Brown wasn't above 43 percent in the ballot test against any of four potential Republican opponents. 


Poll: Majority of Maine Republicans want conservative alternative to Snowe

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) may have the support of Maine's Tea Party-backed governor in her reelection bid, but she could still be in for a tough primary battle next year.

New numbers from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) show 58 percent of Maine Republicans prefer a generic "more conservative" alternative to Snowe in 2012. And just 33 percent of Maine Republicans said they will support her.

According to the poll, 58 percent of Republicans in the state think Snowe is too liberal, while another 33 percent don't even think she belongs in the GOP, saying she should be a Democrat. 

Still, neither of the two Republicans who have already announced runs for the seat have made much headway. Businessman Scott D'Amboise and Tea Party activist Andrew Ian Dodge are largely unknown and haven't yet been able to command the sort of national attention that's already focused on a primary challenge to longtime Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.).  


Poll: Wisconsin Republicans like Rep. Ryan for president

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, would be the top pick of Republicans in Wisconsin for president in 2012 if he opted for a campaign.

New numbers from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) show Ryan would lead the Republican field in the state with 30 percent of Wisconsin Republicans in support of a Ryan presidential bid.  

He's followed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 17 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 12 percent, and former Govs. Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin at 9 percent. 

Despite the numbers, Ryan has shown next to no interest in a 2012 presidential bid and isn't expected to throw his hat into the ring next year. 

He's been mentioned as a potential challenger to Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) next year, as well, and while a Senate race is more likely, few observers expect Ryan to sacrifice his budget chairmanship for a campaign. 

Still, pollster Tom Jensen says Ryan's solid numbers in his home state are worth noting given that he performs better than most of the leading rumored GOP presidential hopefuls do in their home states. 

Aside from Romney, who PPP found with solid support among Republican voters in Massachusetts, Palin, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) can't boast great numbers among Republicans in their home states. 

Without Ryan in the mix, Wisconsin Republicans give the edge to Huckabee, who leads with 23 percent of the vote. He's followed by Gingrich and Palin, who each garner 15 percent. Romney takes 12 percent, while Pawlenty follows with 10 percent of the vote. 


Poll: Tea Party threat to Allen minimal

Former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) is likely to face a crowded Republican primary in his bid to return to the Senate in 2012, but he starts in good position to fight off any Tea Party-backed challengers. 

New numbers from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) show Allen is the favorite for the nomination among Virginia Republicans. Allen and two other Republicans have already jumped into the race for retiring Sen. Jim Webb's (D-Va.) seat.  

Along with Allen, Tea Party activist Jamie Radtke and businessman David McCormick will run, with Del. Bob Marshall and Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart also weighing bids.

A full 67 percent of Virginia Republicans say Allen is their top pick, according to the poll. Just 7 percent prefer Marshall, another 4 percent favor Radtke, while McCormick and Stewart each earn 3 percent. 


Poll: Obama leads all rumored GOP contenders in Virginia

President Obama is in a solid position to win the traditionally Republican state of Virginia again in 2012, according to a new poll out Wednesday.

Numbers from the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling show Obama leading every potential Republican presidential hopeful by margins of 6 to 19 percentage points. 

Obama leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by 6 points, 48 percent to 42 percent. He leads former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee 51 percent to 43 percent, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich 51 percent to 39 percent.

Obama's largest lead in the state comes in a hypothetical matchup with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The president leads Palin by 19 points — 54 percent to 35 percent. 

Despite holding leads over most of the rumored GOP field, Obama's approval in the state is still under 50 percent. That means his early advantage is due more to the poor favorability ratings of the rumored Republican contenders, writes pollster Tom Jensen.

"When you see Obama with a +3 approval spread but leads ranging from 6 to 19 points over his Republican opponents, it's a clear sign that his advantage is more about them than it is about him," Jensen said. 

The Republican with the best numbers in the state is Huckabee, who is viewed favorably by 40 percent of voters, compared to 41 percent who view him unfavorably. 

Romney, Gingrich and Palin fare much worse, with 48 percent of voters holding a negative view of Romney, 56 percent holding a negative opinion of Gingrich and a whopping 63 percent who view Palin unfavorably. 

The survey polled 524 Virginia voters and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points. 

Obama won the state in 2008 — the first Democratic presidential nominee to win it in decades — and Virginia will likely prove pivotal for the president's reelection prospects in 2012, as other more Republican states like Indiana and North Carolina appear less in reach for Obama next year.  

Virginia Democrats, meanwhile, are still waiting on Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine to make a decision on the Senate race. Should Kaine jump in, it would set up one of the marquee matchups of 2012, with the popular former governor likely facing former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.).


Poll: Rep. Chaffetz even with Hatch in potential primary match

In the latest sign of potential 2012 trouble for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a new poll shows Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) deadlocked with the longtime senator among Utah Republicans. 

Chaffetz, who is still weighing a run against Hatch from the right next year, is tied with the senator at 42 percent among GOP voters in the state, according to new numbers from UtahPolicy.com. Another 15 percent remained undecided. 

The poll surveyed 348 registered Republicans and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percentage points.  

In a separate question asked of 600 registered voters in the state, the poll found 54 percent who said it was time to elect someone new to the Senate in 2012. Just 31 percent said they would vote to reelect Hatch.   

Last week, a Deseret News poll showed Chaffetz within 10 points of Hatch. While the senator held a healthy lead among those who self-identified as Republicans in that poll, he trailed Chaffetz 51-35 percent among those who identified themselves as "very conservative." 

Should Hatch face a challenge for the GOP nomination next year, the state convention process, which is dominated by more conservative party insiders, will likely prove his toughest obstacle. It was at the convention last cycle that former Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) landed in third place and was unable to advance to a primary. 

If no candidate wins 60 percent or more of state delegates at the convention, the top two convention finishers head to a primary. 

It's still unclear how much Tea Party opposition Hatch could face in 2012. The longtime senator has made it a point to reach out to Tea Party activists in state and nationally, including speaking at a recent Tea Party Express town hall in Washington, D.C. The group, which backed a challenge to Bennett last cycle, has said it would carefully evaluate any challenger to Hatch should one emerge.


Poll: 'Moderate' Republican has better chance against Obama

Republicans have a better chance at defeating President Obama if the party nominates a "moderate" candidate, according to a new survey.

The Public Policy Polling survey was the second poll released Wednesday to show Obama tied with a generic Republican nominee if the election were held now.

The PPP survey had the president level at 47 percent with his unnamed challenger, and a Gallup survey had Obama tied at 45 percent with his challenger. The results become more nuanced if respondents are given ideological qualifiers about the GOP nominee.

In the PPP survey, a generic moderate Republican candidate has a 2-point lead over Obama, 46 to 44 percent. But when the 600 registered voters were asked whether they'd back Obama or a Tea Party conservative, the president led by 4 points, 49 to 45 percent.

Overall, Obama leads all his identified potential rivals by at least 3 points.

The PPP survey was conducted Feb. 11-14 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.