Three Tight Senate Polls

Prolific pollster Emerson College ran a series of polls in three key Senate states, and all would be in toss-up range if the election were today. 

In Nevada and Wisconsin, the respective Democratic incumbents post only a small lead in states that could become top tier general election contests. The same is true for the third sampled domain, Michigan, where two strong candidates are clearly headed for a toss-up rating.

Emerson already finds the Nevada race becoming a dead heat. The survey results (3/12-15; 1,000 NV registered voters; multiple sampling techniques) see Sen. Jacky Rosen (D) leading Afghan War veteran Sam Brown* (R) by a slight 41-39% split, well within the polling margin of error. In the presidential race, former President Donald Trump slips past President Joe Biden 44-41%, a pattern that has been evident for weeks in the Silver State.

Possibly the most encouraging news for Republicans, which helps explain the GOP presidential performance in the poll, is the fact that Hispanics, traditionally heavily Democratic voters, would break for Biden in only a 44-39% clip. Hispanics account for just over 30% of the Nevada population according to US Census figures. Therefore, this group could become a deciding factor in how the state eventually votes.

In Michigan, with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) retiring after what will be four full terms, US Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) and former Congressman Mike Rogers* (R) look to be headed to the general election even though they won’t be officially nominated until August 6th.

Here, the Emerson Wolverine State survey (3/14-18; 1,000 MO registered voters; multiple sampling techniques) projects a tight 41-39% split in Ms. Slotkin’s favor. This ballot test result is consistent with earlier polls conducted of this race. Emerson also tested Ms. Slotkin against the other potential Republican candidates, former US Reps. Peter Meijer and Justin Amash, along with businessman Sandy Pensler. None come as close as Mr. Rogers to the presumed Democratic nominee.

In the presidential race, the Michigan respondents broke in an even closer fashion than in the Senate race. Here, Mr. Trump would lead President Biden, 45-44%, which is one of the smaller Michigan advantages the former President has posted in recent weeks. If minor party and independent candidates are added, Trump’s lead expands slightly to 43-41% with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. taking 5% and two other minor contenders drawing 1% apiece.

Perhaps the most surprising recent poll comes from the Badger State of Wisconsin where Emerson College already sees the Senate race in much closer terms than most would have surmised. With Republicans only recently witnessing businessman Eric Hovde coming to the forefront to declare his candidacy, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) had, for most of the election cycle, been forecast as a definitive favorite even though the Wisconsin electorate consistently produces close election outcomes.

The new Emerson poll (3/14-18; 1,000 WI likely voters; multiple sampling techniques) projects Sen. Baldwin as holding only a 45-42% margin over Mr. Hovde. From the same survey sample, ex-President Trump posts a consistent three point lead over President Biden whether on a direct head-to-head question or when most of the projected independent and minor party candidates are added to the questionnaire.

As the Senate cycle progresses, the number of top tier contests is expanding. Should the polling pattern found in this latest Emerson survey continue in future research studies, it is probable that each of these three states will evolve into political hotbeds once we reach political prime time.

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