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Late Senate polls show GOP trending up slightly

By Aaron Blake

The last pre-election polls of the 2010 midterm election hold some promise for Senate Republicans anxious to get rid of a Democratic majority in their chamber.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn on Sunday threw some cold water on the idea that Republicans could win the 10 seats required to win back the majority on Tuesday. But looking at the current state of toss-up races, it's not outside the realm of possibility.

And indeed, some late polling numbers in key states suggests that, as undecided voters begin to make their decisions, they might be tilting (ever so slightly) toward the GOP.

Here's a state-by-state look at the final polling in the seven key states - six of which Republicans would need to retake the majority:


Sen. Patty Murray (D) looked to be putting some distance between herself and Republican Dino Rossi, after a poll last week from the University of Washington showed her up by six percentage points.

Since Friday, though, three polls have shown the race is within two points - Marist College (for McClatchy Newspapers), Fox News and Democratic-leaning automated pollster Public Policy Polling. PPP actually showed Rossi at 50 percent and Murray at 48. That's the best result Rossi has seen in a long time.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has fought back with its own poll, which shows Murray up seven.


As in Washington, the DSCC is fighting back on polling that shows the race tilting the Republicans' way.

PPP and Fox News this weekend both showed Rep. Mark Kirk (R) taking a slight four-point lead on state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D). Those polls, combined with a Chicago Tribune poll last week that showed Kirk at 44 percent and Giannoulias at 41, are the first in months to show anything resembling real movement in the race.

The DSCC's polling, meanwhile, continues to show a two-point edge for Giannoulias - just as it did last week.


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) hasn't shown in a lead in a poll in the last three weeks. Meanwhile, Republican Sharron Angle built her biggest lead yet - four points - in a pair of CNN/Time and Mason-Dixon polls released late last week.

Another poll this weekend from Fox showed Angle up three, and PPP showed Angle at 47 percent and Reid at 46 percent. This will be close, but Angle is showing a slight edge in most recent polling.


Former Rep. Pat Toomey (R) appears to have withstood a late surge from Rep. Joe Sestak (D). Four polls since Friday have shown him leading by at least four points - Marist, Quinnipiac University, Muhlenberg and PPP.

Two previous daily Muhlenberg tracking polls showed Toomey's lead at just two, but the average of the tracking poll over the past week has been a five-point Toomey lead.


PPP's newly released poll shows Republican Ken Buck at 49 percent and Sen. Michael Bennet (D) at 48, while a Fox poll and a Marist Poll this weekend showed Buck with a slight four-point lead.

Most previous polling showed the race a dead heat, though, and Republicans are far from declaring victory.

West Virginia

The only public poll in that past week - from PPP - shows Gov. Joe Manchin (D) holding fast to a slight five-point lead. Manchin led by a similar margin last week, while Republican John Raese led by two in a Fox poll.

More and more, West Virginia is looking like the stopgap for Democrats. If Manchin pulls it out early Tuesday night, the GOP will need to win both California and Washington to retake the majority - a tall measure, to be sure.


Speaking of California: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) led by 8 percent in a Field Poll last week. Since then, though, a CNN/Time poll last week and a PPP poll today showed Republican Carly Fiorina within five and four points, respectively.

Still, this one looks like the toughest of the seven for Republicans, and it would be a big surprise to see Fiorina emerge. If she does, the Democratic majority is probably a goner.

By Aaron Blake  | November 1, 2010; 5:30 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Next: Senate "Big Six" will determine fate of parties on Election Day

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