What (or Who) is driving the U.S. Senate polls?

Associated Press

It’s clear that the GOP’s path to the Senate majority is a whole lot more treacherous than it seemed a few short months ago. If Democrats run a strong offensive strategy to hold on to their current leads in the polls and the campaigns continue on the same arc we (Blogging While Blue) predict that the Democrats will hold the U.S. Senate by a narrow margin.

One year ago, the political pundits and conservative radio talking heads were predicting that the Republicans would take control the U.S. Senate and keep the U.S. House of Representatives, regardless of who prevailed in capturing the White House. This scenario was thought to be true even six months ago. However, now that both party conventions are history, surprisingly Democrats have moved ahead in six races where Democrats are considered the most vulnerable.

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WS) is up by four percentage points and leading former Governor Tommy Thompson (R-WS) for the first time since qualifying as the Democrat nominee in the Wisconsin Senate race.

In Florida, Congressman Connie Mack (R-FL), is trailing incumbent Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL). This race is considered a bell weather race as to how the state itself will swing in November. Senator Nelson has widened his lead to seven percentage points.

Virginia has open an Senate seat. Former Democratic Governor Tim Kaine, according to The Washington Post, has opened a substantial eight percentage point lead over former US Senator George Allen despite Kaine making “middle-class tax statement missteps”. Barring a major blowup and with strong African American turnout, Kaine should win this seat easily.

Democrat Elizabeth Warren has closed the “popularity gap” against incumbent Senator Scott Brown (R-MA), and has a four percentage point lead over Brown. President Obama is predicted to carry six of every 10 votes cast on Election Day in Massachusetts and his strong showing should help Warren pull out a victory.

In Indiana, where Tea Party darling Richard Mourdock (R-IN), defeated moderate Republican incumbent Senator Richard Lugar, the polling is within the margin of error and has the race going back and forth between Mourdock and the Democratic nominee Congressman Joe Donnelly (D-IN). While there is no clear leader in this race, the polls have tightened in recent weeks.

In Ohio and Missouri, both Republican candidates have made substantial blunders that have left them trailing in their respective races. Todd Akin (R-MO), with his “legitimate rape” comments has not recovered from this self-inflicted wound. In Ohio, where employee unions are very influential, Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has benefited from Josh Mandel’s (R-OH) criticism of Brown’s vote for the very successful automobile industry bailout, which aided union workers.

Republican Congressman Jeff Flake faces off with Democrat Richard Carmona, the former U.S. Surgeon General in Arizona. The race is an open seat to replace Jon Kyl (R-AZ). According to the Washington DC newspaper, The Hill, Carmona has pulled into a “statistical dead heat” with Flake by running a centrist campaign.

Most pundits predicted the sagging economy would doom Democrat Senators and challengers in swing states. However, based on the races highlighted above, blaming Democrats and offering up Reagan and Bush era solutions to fix the economy is not working for Republicans this year. Voters appear to be more likely to give President Obama and a Democratic Senate more time to correct the mistakes made during Bush’s disastrous eight years.