After only a month on the air and a few weeks on the ground actively campaigning, US Sen. Maria Cantwell has widened her net approval rating from a mere 5 to 6 point margin in June and July to a healthy 17 point margin in August.
At 55% to 38%, Sen. Cantwell not only sits comfortably above the 50 percent approval mark where incumbents want to be, but also matches her highest approval rating over the past year in the monthly SurveyUSA poll. By comparison, both her approval and net approval ratings rank Sen. Cantwell in the middle of the pack amongst senators nationally, and several points above WA’s Sen. Patty Murray, who easily won reelection in 2004.
But a look at the cross tabs is even more instructive. Sen. Cantwell’s approval amongst self-identified “liberal” voters jumped from 60% to 34% in July to 76% to 18% in August… a stunning 32 point increase in net approval margin in only a single month, and the best approve/disapprove numbers she’s scored over the past 15. Sen. Cantwell’s bounce amongst “Democrats” is nearly as pronounced, climbing from a 62% to 31% margin to 73% to 19%.
The conclusion: ninety days before the election, Sen. Cantwell’s base has come home.
According to SurveyUSA, Sen. Cantwell’s approval rating now sits at or above the magic 50% mark amongst both men and women, and in all regions, age groups, education levels and races except Asian. She enjoys 52% approval with independents and 63% with moderates, while her disapproval amongst Republicans and conservatives is significantly softer than her approval amongst Democrats and liberals respectively.
Sure, this is just a single poll in a single month, and a lot can change between now and November, but none of the trends look very good for Republican challenger Mike!™ McGavick right now. His campaign tried to make hay about him “closing the gap” in recent polls, but in truth, it was Sen. Cantwell’s numbers that slid while Mike!™ couldn’t gain enough traction to climb above 40 percent. And the most recent Rasmussen Poll, taken only a week after Sen. Cantwell’s first ads started airing, showed the trend reversing with Sen. Cantwell retaking a double-digit lead. No wonder in its latest “Balance of Power” scorecard of the US Senate, the Republican-leaning Rasmussen listed Sen. Cantwell’s seat as safe Democratic.
Mike!™ has been widely touted as the Republicans best shot at taking down a Democratic incumbent. Hmm. Looking at current trends, that doesn’t say much for the GOP’s prospects this November, huh?