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
What We're Following See More »
A Russian government think tank run by Putin loyalists "developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system." Two confidential documents from the Putin-backed Institute for Strategic Studies, obtained by U.S. intelligence, provide "the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election."
"The FBI last year used a dossier of allegations of Russian ties to Donald Trump's campaign as part of the justification" to monitor Carter Page, who was then a defense adviser to the Trump campaign. "The dossier has also been cited by FBI Director James Comey in some of his briefings to members of Congress in recent weeks."
"The Air Force is set to deploy its high-tech, fifth-generation F-35A fighter jets to Europe this weekend as part of an effort to assure U.S. allies there who are worried about Russian aggression." The new, state-of-the-art fighters will train with European air units. "The Pentagon noted that the deployment had been long planned, meaning it was not a reaction to recent increasing tensions between the United States and Russia," although a statement noted the move is part of the "European Reassurance Initiative," which began three years ago when Russia annexed Crimea.