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Polls Show Manchin, Sestak, and Bennet Struggling in Senate Races

Bad polling news for a number of Democratic Senate hopefuls is coming out all at once.

The first — and most surprising — item concerns Gov. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who a new Public Policy Polling survey shows trailing his GOP opponent John Raese 46 percent to 43 percent in the race to fill the late Sen. Robert Byrd’s (D-W.Va.) Senate seat. Just months before, soon after Manchin signaled his intention to run, most preliminary polls put him up by at least 20 points, but since then his lead has steadily diminished. The poll results are also coming out at the same time as revelations that a federal probe into highways built in West Virginia is being focused, at least in part, on a $150 million road that connects I-79 to to Fairmont, Manchin’s hometown — but any connection to the governor’s office at this stage is circumstantial at best.

Meanwhile, new polls showing former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) holding a steady 7 point lead over Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) in the race to replace Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) are causing come forecasters to recategorize it from “toss up” to “lean Republican.” But anyone who followed Sestak’s come-from-behind victory over Specter in the primary knows it’s too soon to say anything for sure: “Pat Toomey is in a good place, ahead by 7 points with six weeks to go. But Congressman Joe Sestak has proven himself a tough competitor so it’s too early to order the champagne,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement.

Finally, a new CNN/Time/Opinion Research poll indicates that Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) is falling behind Weld County DA and tea party–backed candidate, Ken Buck, in Colorado’s Senate race. The difference in the race seems to be all about the enthusiasm gap that’s plaguing Democrats around the country, pundits note: Buck leads Bennet 49 percent to 44 percent among likely voters. When registered voters are polled, however, Bennet takes 47 percent to Buck’s 44 percent. Getting those 2008 Obama voters out to the polls for Bennet, in other words, is a must-do if he hopes to keep his seat.

At least Democrats can still be thankful that Christine O’Donnell is the GOP Senate candidate in Delaware.

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