Polls show Republicans firmly ahead in 3 key Senate races

WASHINGTON (MCT) — In the final stretch before Tuesday’s midterm elections, Republicans appear on solid footing in three key Senate races, according to new polls that show Democratic hopes of holding control of the Senate looking increasing faint.

In Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has a nine-point lead over Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, the NBC News/Marist poll found. Meanwhile, Senate races in Georgia and Louisiana appear headed for runoffs, but in both cases the Democrats were poised to lose the head-to-head matchups.

The outlook in the Southern states is not a shock to Democrats. All three states are rough terrain for Democrats in any year — and even more at a time when voters express widespread dissatisfaction with President Barack Obama’s performance on nearly every major issue of the day.

Still, all three races have featured flashes of hope for Democrats in recent months. Grimes has shown herself a tough campaigner and unafraid to knock the president and his policies. In Georgia, Michelle Nunn’s fight against Republican David Perdue has become a test of whether the Democratic Party can mobilize African American voters in an off year. In Louisiana, two-term incumbent Mary Landrieu is hoping her powerful name and GOP division can inch her over the edge.

The polling suggests Landrieu won’t know the answer until the results of a Dec. 6 runoff election. Among likely voters in Tuesday’s ballot, Landrieu stood at 44 percent, compared with Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy’s 36 percent and Tea Party-aligned candidate Rob Maness’ 15 percent. One candidate needs to exceed 50 percent to avoid a rematch. In hypothetical head-to-head matchups against either Cassidy or Maness, Landrieu loses, the poll indicates.

In Georgia, Nunn was trailing Perdue, 44 percent to 48 percent, and Perdue was projected to win in a runoff. In Kentucky, McConnell was leading Grimes, 50 percent to 41 percent.

If Democrats lose each of the three Senate seats, their slog to 50 seats in the Senate is tough. They would have to win four of the six tightest races across the country in Alaska, Colorado, Arkansas, Iowa, North Carolina, and New Hampshire.

Republicans need to pick up six seats to gain control of the Senate and are already seen as having a lock in South Dakota, West Virginia and Montana.

–Kathleen Hennessey
Tribune Washington Bureau

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