CBS News and the New York Times created a panel of 100,000 voters who they intend to interview four times between July and Election Day. Their first set of senate polls produced a Republican Senate with the GOP holding leads in 53 races.
The survey tracks very closely with Republican optimal scenarios with Michigan included as a bonus. For Democrats, the survey is everything they feared. For starters, CBS/NYT finds Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell at 50% and leading by four points over Alison Lundergan Grimes. In Georgia, Republican David Perdue is also at 50% and leads Michelle Nunn by six. Conventional wisdom said Democrats would lose those red states, but for some time polling has shown the races as toss-ups. The GOP now appears to be to be taking these races off the table.
Republicans holds large leads with Mike Rounds in South Dakota (61-34), Steve Daines in Montana (56-40), and Shelley Moore Capito (51-43) with a somewhat diminished lead in West Virginia. This puts them at 48 seats.
The GOP adds five more seats from Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina. However, with the exception of Arkansas these are one point races.
Arkansas – Tom Cotton 50, Mark Pryor 46
Iowa -Joni Enrst 48, Bruce Braley 47
Louisiana – Bill Cassidy 47, Mary Landrieu 46 (need 50% to avoid run-off)
Michigan – Terri Lynn Land 48, Gary Peter 47
North Carolina – Thom Tillis 48, Kay Hagan 47
Good news for Democrats is scare, but not non-existent. Colorado incumbent Mark Udall has a four-point lead over Cory Gardner (51-47) while Alaska incumbent Mark Beghich leads both of his potential Republican challengers. Democratic incumbents also hold double digit leads in Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Virginia (although Republican Ed Gillespie significantly closed the gap from other polls).
While the Republican advantage is certainly helped by the four statistically insignificant one point leads (although the margin of error was much lower in the key states than other polls), the CBS/NYT Senate polls demonstrate the strength and depth of the GOP field this year. Republicans could lose two of their one point leads and still win a majority. They are also close in Alaska and Colorado, which gives them five chances for seat number 51.