New GOP Polling Finds Western State Democrats in Trouble

Posted September 2, 2010 at 11:31am

New polling in 10 Democratic-held, Western state Congressional districts released Thursday by the conservative American Action Forum confirms that several Democratic incumbents face highly competitive races this fall.

“It is clear that voters in West Coast polling believe our nation is on the wrong track,” AAF President Douglas Holtz-Eakin said.

Trailing by significant margins are Democratic Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick and Harry Mitchell of Arizona and John Salazar and Betsy Markey of Colorado.

In Arizona’s 1st district, Kirkpatrick trailed dentist Paul Gosar 47 percent to 41 percent, with 12 percent undecided. In the state’s 5th district, Mitchell trailed his 2008 opponent David Schweikert 50 percent to 44 percent.

Salazar, who faced nominal opposition in 2008, trailed state Rep. Scott Tipton 51 percent to 43 percent in Colorado’s 3rd district. The polling showed Markey faced the greatest deficit, as state Rep. Cory Gardner led 50 percent to 39 percent in the Colorado’s 4th district.

In each district, interviews were conducted with 400 voters who say they are at least somewhat likely to vote in November.

There was little good news for Democrats, other than Rep. Martin Heinrich (N.M.) holding a 7-point lead over challenger Jon Barela, which is in line with previous polls in the district. Also, freshman Rep. Kurt Schrader (Ore.) leads state Rep. Scott Bruun by 8 points, though Schrader is polling well below 50 percent, and 21 percent of district voters remain undecided.

“As voters learn about these Republican candidates’ support for policies like privatizing Social Security and Medicare, eliminating public schools, outsourcing American jobs and drastically cutting veterans benefits, it’ll become abundantly clear how out of touch these candidates are,” said Andy Stone, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Elsewhere, four incumbents are in statistical dead heats with their Republican challengers, the polling showed. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz.) was tied at 46 percent with Iraq War veteran Jesse Kelly. Rep. Dina Titus (Nev.) was behind by 3 points against former state Sen. Joe Heck, within the 4.9-point margin of error. Rep. Jerry McNerney (Calif.) was at 44 percent and in a statistical tie with attorney David Harmer. And Rep. Loretta Sanchez (Calif.) was in a statistical tie, 45 percent to 43 percent, against state Assemblyman Van Tran.

While most political observers see the landscape continuing to improve for Republicans, as the polls suggest, Democrats and others have questioned the methodology of the partisan-sponsored polls. Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) serves as the think tank’s CEO.