Not that polls are all that meaningful a year out from the election, but the latest Rasmussen poll shows Sen. Maria Cantwell leading insurance industry flak Mike McGavick, 52% to 37%… for the second month in a row. While the head to head numbers haven’t changed, Cantwell’s favorable rating has climbed to a respectable 60%.
Cantwell has long been considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic senate incumbents in 2006, but these numbers suggest she’s nowhere near as weak as Republicans had hoped. It’s interesting to note that Sen. Patty Murray had also been considered vulnerable heading into the 2004 campaign season, but led George Nethercutt by a similar 52% to 37% margin as early as June of 2003. Murray went on to win by over 12 points.
The GOP had counted on an unpopular Cantwell being an easy target, but now it seems clear that McGavick is not only going to have to sell himself to WA voters, he’s going to have to make a strong case for tossing out Cantwell as well. And with Bush’s approval ratings in the toilet, and the GOP leadership not far behind, it’s gonna be pretty tough making the argument that we need to give the president one more Republican vote in the Senate.
Perhaps this partially explains why his fellow Republicans aren’t lining up to challenge McGavick for the nomination?