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Monday, November 14, 2005

WA-Sen: Comfortable Lead for Cantwell

Posted by DavidNYC

Freshman Sen. Maria Cantwell is often thought to be one of the more endangered Democratic incumbents. The CW says that senators are at their most vulnerable during their first re-election campaign, and it's probably true, up to a point. Three of the eleven freshman senators elected during the GOP sweep in 1994 lost in 2000: Rod Grams (MN), John Ashcroft (MO), and Spencer Abraham (MI), who had originally taken a Dem open seat. And Cantwell won by just the slimmest of margins - not even one-hundredth of one percent of the vote (barely 2,000 out of 2.3 million cast). So the fears seem reasonable.

Fortunately for Cantwell, two things (possibly somewhat related) have happened. First, the WA GOP wasn't able to recruit a top-shelf candidate, just a very rich one (Safeco CEO Mike McGavick). And second, there's a strong and growing tide in favor of Dems nationwide, which is helping to erase any "natural" disadvantages that freshman incumbents have. Rasmussen, at least in the early going, confirms this (likely voters, no trendlines):

Cantwell: 52
McGavick: 37
Other: 3
Undecided: 8
(MoE: ±4.5%)

There is (as there often is) one cautionary note here: McGavick's name recognition still lags appreciably behind Cantwell's. She's in the 90s, as you'd expect of a sitting senator, while he barely hits 70. If there's one thing that rich guys are good at, it's increasing their name rec. As soon as McGavick starts doing that, more of his natural base of support will come aboard. But with Cantwell already polling over 52%, she's in very good shape to hold her seat.

P.S. Rasmussen says her favorability rating is 57-37. Her SUSA job approval isn't all that great (52-37) - only good enough for 69th - but it'll probably do.

Posted at 03:10 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Washington | Technorati

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