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October 17, 2013 3:01 PM Moving the Needle on Senate ‘14

By Ed Kilgore

While evidence that Republican responsibility for the fiscal crisis could endanger the party’s hold on the House remains limited given the GOP’s many built-in advantages in that chamber, PPP does offer some fresh data showing that the fiasco strengthened the hand of Democrats in the key Senate races up in 2014. And it’s reasonably uniform:

-In Georgia voters oppose the shutdown 61/31, and it’s just another factor helping make this seat competitive for Democrats next year. Michelle Nunn is knotted with a generic Republican opponent at 42%.
The shutdown will be particularly problematic for the GOP if it nominates one of the House members seeking a promotion to the Senate- 47% of voters say they’re less likely to vote Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey, or Jack Kingston for the Senate because of their support for the shutdown to only 32% who think it’s a positive. After being informed that her most likely opponents were among those House Republicans who favored the shutdown, Nunn improves to a 48/42 lead lead on the generic ballot.
In a pair of key open seat Senate races Democrats are well positioned because voters are mad about the shutdown, and appreciative of the Democratic House members looking to move up who opposed the shutdown:
-In Michigan’s open seat race Democrat Gary Peters leads Republican Terri Lynn Land 43/36. Voters are opposed to the shutdown by a 65/27 margin, and when voters are informed that Peters stood against the shutdown in the House his lead expands to 50/36.
-It’s a similar story in Iowa’s open seat race- there Democrat Bruce Braley leads a generic Republican opponent 45/41. Voters are against the shutdown 64/27, and when voters are informed of Braley’s opposition his lead goes up to 7 points at 46/39.
In a pair of red states where Republican House members are challenging incumbent Democratic Senators, their support of the shutdown is proving to be a liability:
-In Louisiana Mary Landrieu leads Republican challenger Bill Cassidy 48/41 for reelection. Voters oppose the shutdown 60/30, and 47% say they’re less likely to vote for Cassidy for the Senate next year because he supported it compared to only 32% who are more likely to. Landrieu’s lead grows to 52/42 when voters are informed of Cassidy’s position on the shutdown.
-In Arkansas Mark Pryor leads Republican challenger Tom Cotton 44/41. Voters there oppose the shutdown 59/32. When informed that Cotton supported it, 45% of voters say they’re less likely to support him for a move up to the Senate next year compared to just 33% who say they’re more likely to.
And voters also overwhelmingly oppose the shutdown in the other state we polled:
-In North Carolina Kay Hagan leads a generic Republican 47/42. Voters oppose the government shutdown 63/29, and when they’re informed that she opposed it as well her lead over a generic opponent increases to 49/41.

Sure, memories of the shutdown will fade between now and November of 2014, but it’s not as though the ideological positioning of GOP Senate candidates will fundamentally change. And at this point, any thumb on the scales for Democratic candidates increases the gains GOPers must make to win control of the Senate.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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