Top Of The Ticket GOP Candidates And The McCain Vote

With Republican voter excitement and anger at high levels across the country you would expect everyone who voted for John McCain even in the Democratic year of 2008 to be strongly committed to supporting the GOP this year. And for the most part that’s true- in 18 of 24 Senate and Gubernatorial races we’ve polled over the last 3.5 months the Republican candidate held at least a 60 point advantage with voters who said they supported John McCain. There is very little in the way of McCain voters going for Democrats this year.

What are interesting are the six exceptions though:

1) In Kentucky Rand Paul leads Jack Conway only 70-14 with McCain voters
2) In Texas Rick Perry leads Bill White 72-14
3) In Illinois Senate Mark Kirk leads Alexi Giannoulias 61-6
4) In Louisiana David Vitter leads Charlie Melancon 72-14
5) In New Hampshire John Stephen leads John Lynch 64-13
6) In Illinois Governor Bill Brady leads Pat Quinn 66-8

The New Hampshire case is not very remarkable- John Lynch has proven to be a strong vote getter with a large amount of crossover support in his three successful runs for Governor.

The others though speak to some problems for the GOP. In both Kentucky and Texas the Republicans nominated the more conservative, more unpopular candidate when Trey Grayson or Kay Bailey Hutchison winning probably would have resulted in general election contests that weren’t really contests. Likewise in Illinois Republicans nominated an unknown in Bill Brady instead of one of the better known candidates in the race. We haven’t polled Nevada recently where Republicans did something similar or Colorado where they might, but if GOP voters want to give their party the best chance possible to get back control of the Senate this fall they’re probably not nominating the right candidates to do it.

In Illinois and Louisiana the comparatively tepid support from McCain voters for Mark Kirk and David Vitter is likely a product of scandal that has surrounded the candidates. Given all of Alexi Giannoulias’ baggage a Republican devoid of it would probably would be winning the Senate race right now. David Vitter’s probably going to be fine but Republicans would have zero chance of losing the race given Barack Obama’s standing in the state if they had a cleaner nominee.

If I had to put my money on it I’d still say Republicans are going to win the Kentucky, Texas, and Louisiana races and they have at least an even money chance in both of the Illinois ones. But they’re making things harder on themselves than they have to be.

Here’s a chart showing how much each Republican across the country leads by with McCain voters:

Race GOP Nominee Lead Among McCain Voters
California Senate Carly Fiorina +84
Iowa Senate Chuck Grassley +80
Missouri Senate Roy Blunt +76
New HampshireSenate Kelly Ayotte +74
Arizona Senate John McCain +74
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker +73
Colorado Governor Scott McInnis +72
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley +69
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad +69
Ohio Governor John Kasich +68
Wisconsin Senate Ron Johnson +67
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett +67
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer +64
Pennsylvania Senate Pat Toomey +63
California Governor Meg Whitman +63
Colorado Senate Ken Buck +62
Ohio Senate Rob Portman +61
North Carolina Senate Richard Burr +61
Texas Governor Rick Perry +58
Louisiana Senate David Vitter +58
Illinois Governor Bill Brady +58
Kentucky Senate Rand Paul +56
Illinois Senate Mark Kirk +55
New Hampshire Governor John Stephen +51

Read more from Tom Jensen at Public Policy Polling

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