Fox News Polls: Senate battleground races trending GOP, Roberts up in Kansas

Posted on at

New Fox News battleground polls show a Republican trend in the fight for the U.S. Senate.The GOP candidates -- helped by anti-Barack Obama sentiment and strong support from male voters -- lead in all five states: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas and Kentucky.

The races, however, are still far from settled. None of the Senate candidates has a lead outside the poll’s margin of sampling error. And none of the front-runners hit the important marker of 50 percent support from their electorate.

Starting with Kansas, where there are two big turnarounds, here are the state-by-state results:


Two Republican incumbents are fighting to keep their jobs in Kansas.The new Fox News poll finds both of them -- Sen. Pat Roberts and Gov. Sam Brownback -- have jumped ahead of their challengers.


"We know that partisanship tends to assert itself as Election Day nears,” said Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the Fox News poll along with Democratic pollster Chris Anderson.“And that may be happening in Kansas."

The Senate race clearly remains competitive, as 44 percent of likely voters in Kansas back Roberts, with 39 percent for independent Greg Orman and 3 percent for libertarian Randall Batson. Yet Orman was up by six points in a two-way matchup three weeks ago (48-42 percent).

Democrat Chad Taylor withdrew from the race September 3, and subsequently the court decided a Democrat does not have to appear on the ballot.

Roberts has a bit more strength of support: 82 percent of his backers say they are certain to vote for him. It’s 76 percent for Orman.

Some 73 percent of Republicans back Roberts, while 71 percent of Democrats support Orman. Independents go for Orman by 45-34 percent. Roberts maintains his overall vote advantage because there are so many more Republicans than Democrats in the Sunflower State.

Men are supporting Roberts by 50-37 percent, while women back Orman by a narrow 40-38 percent margin.

One of the attacks against Roberts is that he doesn’t own a home in Kansas, and that may hurt him. Over half of voters -- 55 percent -- say Roberts is out of touch with Kansans. Just 35 percent say he is in touch.

For Orman, 37 percent say he is in touch with the state, while 39 percent say he isn’t. Orman is still an unknown to many voters, as nearly one in four is unsure (24 percent).

Brownback was elected in 2010 and soon fulfilled a campaign promise to cut taxes. More Kansas voters think the cuts mostly have hurt (43 percent) rather than helped (36 percent) the state’s economy.

Among voters saying the tax cuts have hurt, 78 percent are backing Democratic challenger Paul Davis.

Overall, the poll finds Brownback outdoes Davis: 46-40 percent. That’s a reversal from last month when Davis was up by four (45-41 percent).

The shift comes from a few places: Support for Davis among Democrats dropped from 91 percent in September to 82 percent, and backing from independents increased for Brownback from 27 percent last month to 36 percent. In addition, Brownback’s support among men increased 10 points in the new poll since September.

Sixty-three percent of Kansas likely voters disapprove of Obama’s job performance, which makes this his worst job rating of the five battleground states tested this week.


Likely voters in Alaska are unhappy with President Obama and don’t think much of his health care plan. That helps give Republican Dan Sullivan a 44-40 percent advantage over Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Begich.


It also helps Sullivan that by a 13-point spread, more Republicans (42 percent) than Democrats (29 percent) are “extremely” interested in the election.

Eighty-six percent of each candidate’s backers say they are certain to vote for their guy Nov. 4.

Men back Sullivan by a 14-point margin, while women are more likely to go for Begich by 5 points.

It’s clear why Begich has tried to distance himself from Obama -- and why Sullivan has tried to make the race a referendum on the president: 61 percent of Alaska likely voters disapprove of Obama, and 56 percent think the health care law went too far. Begich voted for ObamaCare.

About 10 percent are still undecided about their vote in the Senate race, yet two-thirds of them disapprove of the job Obama is doing. That’s an ominous sign for Begich.

Begich had to pull a much-criticized ad off television, yet the damage lingers. Over half of voters -- 53 percent -- say Begich is making unfair attacks against Sullivan. Just 40 percent feel Sullivan is attacking Begich unfairly.

In the Alaska gubernatorial race, Republican Sean Parnell receives 42 percent to non-affiliated candidate Bill Walker’s 37 percent. About one in five is undecided or will vote for someone else.


Republican challenger Tom Cotton is up seven points over Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor among Arkansas likely voters (46 percent vs. 39 percent). Cotton’s lead is right at the poll’s margin of error (± 3.5 percentage points).


Cotton’s edge is a little soft though -- almost one in five (18 percent) of his supporters say they could change their mind before Election Day. Fourteen percent of Pryor’s supporters are uncertain.

The key for Cotton is that independents are much more likely to back him than Pryor (45-26 percent). In addition, by double-digit margins, white evangelical Christians (+34 points), men (+15) and veterans (+12) support Cotton, an Army veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

It could help Cotton that 61 percent of undecided voters disapprove of Obama.

Pryor was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002, and he supported the 2010 health care law.

It’s been a hard-hitting campaign, yet voters blame both campaigns equally: 46 percent say Pryor is making unfair attacks against Cotton, and 46 percent say Cotton is crossing the line.

Voters in Arkansas disapprove of Obama’s job performance by nearly two-to-one. Thirty-two percent approve, while 61 percent disapprove.

Meanwhile, by a 50-41 percent margin, likely voters in Arkansas oppose creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the U.S. Those opposed favor Cotton by nearly 40 points.

Republican Asa Hutchinson is up 46-37 percent over Democrat Mike Ross in the race to replace term-limited Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe.


Republicans in Colorado are much more enthusiastic than Democrats about the upcoming election, and that explains -- at least in part -- why the new poll shows Rep. Cory Gardner topping Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall by 43-37 percent.


Among likely voters here, nearly half of Republicans (48 percent) are “extremely” interested in the election, while less than a third of Democrats (31 percent) feel that way. This could be even more important here than in some other battleground states because Colorado now votes 100 percent by mail and people can register to vote up through Election Day.

Gardner’s support is stronger, with 85 percent of his backers “certain” to vote for him compared to 80 percent of Udall’s.

Independents (+15 points), men (+17), gun owners (+29) and white evangelical Christians (+38) are more likely to back Gardner.

Udall has the edge among Hispanics (+20 points), lower income voters (+13), urban voters (+11) and women (+5).

Overall, a 52-percent majority says the 2010 health care law “went too far,” and three-quarters of those voters are supporting Gardner. Sen. Udall, who was first elected in 2008, voted for the law.

On immigration, 50 percent favor allowing illegal immigrants to eventually qualify for citizenship, while 39 percent are opposed. Those in favor back Udall (56-24 percent). Those opposed support Gardner (67-16 percent).

The Colorado governor’s race is all tied up at 42 percent apiece for Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper and Republican challenger Bob Beauprez.

Voters in the Centennial State disapprove of the job Obama is doing by 57-36 percent. Obama’s personal favorable rating was 54 percent in the 2012 Fox News exit poll.

Even though Obama’s job rating is underwater by 21 percentage points here, this is the best job rating he receives of the five battleground state polls.


U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is narrowly ahead of Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes -- 45-41 percent -- among Kentucky likely voters.


There are clear reasons why the race remains tight. First, enthusiasm among Democrats and Republicans is evenly matched in Kentucky, as about three in 10 from each party are “extremely” interested in the election. In addition, roughly equal numbers of Grimes (86 percent certain) and McConnell (88 percent) supporters say they are “certain” to vote for them.

And party loyalty is about the same for each, as 77 percent of Democrats plan to vote for Grimes, while 78 percent of Republicans plan to back McConnell. The small subgroup of independents backs McConnell by almost two-to-one, and this gives him the edge.

Men are more likely to back McConnell (+11 points), while women go for Grimes (+2 points).

Just over a third of Kentucky likely voters support the Tea Party movement -- and 72 percent of those supporters favor McConnell.

The Fox News Poll is conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R). The polls were conducted October 4-7, 2014, by telephone (landline and cell phone) with live interviewers among a random sample of likely voters in Alaska (706), Arkansas (707), Colorado (739), Kansas (702) and Kentucky (706). Results based on the full sample in each state have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

About the author