Friday October 22, 2010
Races Tighten in US Senate Races for Pro-life Candidates
By Peter J. Smith
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 22, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The U.S. midterm elections are eleven days away, and the races of several pro-life candidates have tightened considerably. In only one US Senate race, do pro-life voters have to make the choice between adding a pro-life Democrat to the Senate, or electing a pro-life Republican who might be the 51st Senator to hand over the chamber to the GOP and its largely pro-life leadership.
LifeSiteNews.com presents four U.S. Senate races of interest – Alaska, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Washington, and California – where pro-life candidates are deadlocked with their pro-abortion challengers (and one case where both challengers are pro-life).
The race has tightened severely for pro-life GOP candidate Joe Miller. Pro-abortion Sen. Lisa Murkowski has run an aggressive write-in ballot campaign which now has put her neck and neck with Miller.
A CNN/Time poll of 947 likely voters gives Miller 37 percent of the vote, Murkowski, 37 percent, and pro-abortion Democrat Scott McAdams, 23 percent.
So far, Miller still has a slight one point lead according to Real Clear Politics.
Miller has made no bones about his pro-life credentials, and even credited pro-life turnout over a ballot measure with giving him the narrow margin he needed to oust Murkowski from the primary. As far as the GOP is concerned, the race will stay in Republican hands, as Murkowski has promised to caucus with Republicans. However, a Murkowski win translates into the Senate having less of a shot of an actual pro-life majority in the chamber itself.
Pro-life conservative Pat Toomey is now facing a stiff challenge from pro-abortion Democrat Jim Sestak. Sestak has whittled away Toomey’s commanding lead, and now polls show Sestak tied or leading by a point.
A Quinnipiac poll of 1,046 likely voters showed Toomey leading by only two points, 48 percent to 46 percent. The poll was conducted between October 13-17, and has a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.
Both Toomey and Sestak have solid locks on their own parties. But the real battle is for the state’s independent voters. According to Quinnipiac, independents break for Toomey 56 percent to 35 percent.
Other polls report that Sestak has closed the gap with independents. Public Policy Polling reports Sestak now leads Toomey by one point. But the polling firm says that “virtually all” the remaining undecided independents have sided with Sestak, a finding that would go against the national trend. The PPP also states that Democrats in the state are getting motivated to vote in greater numbers. This also contradicts the national enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans this election.
However, Politico reports that Toomey will be going into the final stretch with outside conservative groups shelling out $7 million into his campaign – approximately twice the amount that outside liberal groups are spending on Sestak in these final days.
Both candidates go on the air for their second and final debate tonight at 7 p.m at TV station WPXI in Pittsburgh. The station plans to stream the debate live on its website.
This is the only US Senate race where voters are faced with the choice of a pro-life Democrat and a pro-life Republican in the 2010 election. The race has tightened between popular Democrat Gov. Joe Manchin III and GOP conservative John Raese. Both men are endorsed by West Virginians for Life.
In another election cycle, the Senate race would be a slam dunk for Manchin. He enjoys enormous popularity as governor, and West Virginia generally sends social conservative Democrats to Congress.
Not so this election: West Virginians do not like President Barack Obama and his policies, especially the health care reform bill and cap-and-trade legislation, which would harm the state’s coal industry.
Manchin has been very busy trying to distance himself from the president and cast himself as a right-of-center Democrat. This has helped put the race back into a toss-up, but the strategy may be running out of gas.
Right now RCP average puts Manchin with a small 1.5 point lead over Raese, but that average is due to a dubious Orion Strategies poll of 450 likely voters that showed Manchin with a 10 point lead and a 4.6 percent margin of error. However, that polling firm, which is owned by Democrat consultant Curt Wilkerson, did not disclose its methodology.
An October 19 poll of 750 likely voters from Rasmussen Reports, shows Raese actually leading Manchin by 7 points. Rasmussen now rates the race as “leans Republican.”
However the Manchin campaign has an internal poll that claims Manchin leads Raese, 48 percent to 43 percent.
Raese got a big boost from West Virginia’s largest paper, The Charleston Daily Mail, which said it was “painful” choice, since Manchin had been so effective as governor and representing the state’s interests.
“The issue in the race is how Democrats have used their 59-41 majority, and whether West Virginians want to see more of the same,” the paper said in its endorsement of Raese.
The Mail continued that voters could not be sure whether they were hearing “tactics or conviction” from Manchin, since Democrat leaders like Nancy Pelosi have made it clear that Democrat candidates can take shots against them to win their races, but when they get to Washington, they will be expected to function as part of the team.
“There is no such mystery about Raese,” they added, saying it was imperative to change control of the Senate to put the country back on sound economic footing.
Earlier this month, polls showed pro-life Republican Dino Rossi finally polling ahead of pro-abortion incumbent, Democrat Patty Murray. Now, polls show that Murray has clawed her way back to the top, but within the margin of error, meaning the race is still extraordinarily close.
Real Clear Politics stats for October 11 – 17, shows Murray averages a 2.2 percent lead over Rossi.
A McClatchy-Marist poll shows just one point of difference between the pro-abortion and pro-life candidates, with Murray at 48 percent, and Rossi at 47 percent. The poll of 589 likely voters was taken between October 14 – 17.
“This is indeed a cliffhanger, any way you carve up the numbers,” stated Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion. “The road to a Republican majority in the Senate could go through Washington state.”
Rasmussen Reports rates the race a toss-up, but with Murray having a slighter larger lead over Rossi, 49 percent to 46 percent. Three percent say they are still undecided. The poll of 750 likely voters has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.
Pro-abortion Sen. Barbara Boxer is still overall in the lead, but has not managed to shake off pro-life challenger and former Hewlett Packard executive Carly Fiorina.
Fiorina has managed to hold Boxer to only a narrow margin, and one internal GOP poll claims she may actually be pulling ahead.
Two polls put Boxer ahead of Fiorina by two points. Rasmussen reports that Boxer has 48 percent, while Fiorina is right behind at 46 percent.
Survey USA’s poll shows Boxer leading Fiorina, 46 percent to 44 percent.
A GOP commissioned poll, however, was cautiously optimistic that Republicans may now have a narrow edge in California. Wilson Research Strategies surveyed 800 likely voters between October 13-14 and stated that Fiorina had the advantage, 46 percent to 43 percent. They emphasized that the race was still “very competitive.”
In any event, political analysts note that Republicans will have to carry either California or Washington to get the 51st seat they need to capture the Senate, and say that both Rossi and Fiorina have an equal shot at that possibility.
See related coverage by LifeSiteNews.com:
Pro-Abortion Obama Sinks to New Low in Public Opinion Survey
GOP Leads Democrat in Pro-Life Senate Race for West Virginia