Democrats: Hope for the House, and good news on the Senate

Among the nation's most unpopular senators are four Republicans up for reelection.

Published July 28, 2006 1:35PM (EDT)

Joe Conason has the rundown today on a new NPR poll that suggests Democrats have reason to feel bullish about their chances of taking back the House of Representatives in November. As pollster Stan Greenberg says, the results of a survey taken in the 50 most competitive House districts "suggest that in the real world where the campaigns are fighting it out for votes, Democrats are in a very strong position to hold virtually all their seats, while the Republicans could readily lose most of theirs."

"Clearly," Greenberg says, "the probability of a Democratic takeover in November is rising, and is more likely than not."

He's talking about the House of Representatives, where Democrats need to pick up 15 seats to take control from the GOP. But what about the Senate? Democrats need to pick up six seats there, and conventional wisdom says that that's going to be a tougher row to hoe.

That's almost certainly right, but a new poll -- a collection of polls, actually -- from SurveyUSA provides some reason for hope. SurveyUSA measured the state-by-state approval ratings of every sitting U.S. senator. Among the 10 senators with the lowest net approval ratings are four Republicans -- but no Democrats -- who are running for reelection this year. The flailing four: Montana's Conrad Burns; the bottom-of-the-barrel senator with an upside down 37-57 approval rating, Rick Santorum; Mike DeWine and Lincoln Chafee. Among the 10 highest-rated senators, there's only one who finds himself in a competitive race this year, and he's a Democrat: Ben Nelson enjoys a 68-27 percent approval rating in Nebraska, which looks awfully good compared to the president's 45-54 numbers there.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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2006 Elections Ben Nelson D-neb. Rick Santorum