Four battleground Senate surveys conducted in mid-February from leading Democratic pollster Harrison Hickman illustrate just how difficult the political environment is shaping up to be for Democrats in 2014. The polls, conducted in mid-February, show Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Mark Udall (D-CO) in varying degrees of trouble "“ from dire to vulnerable.
-- The most alarming numbers were in Louisiana. Landrieu's favorability is 10 points underwater (42/52), and she loses to a generic Republican by 11 points, 47-36%. Against her leading GOP challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy, she trails 46-42%. The ads attacking her on Obamacare have made an impact: 38% view her "very unfavorably," not far from President Obama's 45% figure.
-- If anything, Pryor's numbers, while middling, looked better by comparison. His personal favorability is still solid at 47%/36%, even with Obama's dismal 32%/65% numbers. And among likely voters, he's tied with Rep. Tom Cotton (R) at 46%. But there are clear warning signs: Likely voters supported a generic Republican 47-39% over Pryor. And among definite voters, he trails Cotton, 51-42%. These numbers suggest the race is still winnable, but requires Democrats turning Cotton into a political pariah "“ a difficult task, given his biography.
-- The news is also mixed for Hagan. On the positive side, Obama's favorability is much better in NC, at 46/50. And there's a greater intensity level of support for the president (33% strongly favorable), along with angry opposition (40% strongly unfavorable). And Hagan's net favorability (41/42) is better than her leading, lesser-known GOP rival Thom Tillis (13/20). But Hagan only leads Tillis 45-41%among likely voters, and trails a generic Republican, 44-38%.
Like Pryor, Udall's favorability is respectable but very soft. He's viewed positively by 46% of voters, but barely led flawed, one-time GOP challenger Ken Buck, 46-42%. (The poll was conducted before Rep. Cory Gardner entered the race.) Against a generic Republican, he trails 41-36%. Obama's approval is 44%, with intensity on the side of his opposition. These are the types of numbers that led Gardner to change his mind and challenge Udall. And all the polls paint a picture of a Democratic party whose Senate majority is hanging in the balance.
-- Josh Kraushaar