Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
On Tuesday, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) fended off a tough labor-backed primary challenge from Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. This November, she'll face a much tougher test: popular Republican congressman John Boozman. Now a top pollster is saying that Democrats should cut off financial support to Lincoln and spend their money elsewhere. Tom Jensen, the director of Public Policy Polling, runs one of the most accurate polling shops in the business. He says Lincoln's goose is cooked:
There hasn't been a non-Research 2000 poll showing her down by anything less than 17 points to John Boozman in over three months. Our last survey of the race found her down by 23. Contests where we've found Democrats doing better than Lincoln since that poll include:
—The South Carolina Senate race where we found Vic Rawl, who actually lost the primary last night to a nobody, trailing Jim DeMint by just 19.
—The Georgia Senate race where in March we saw Johnny Isakson up just 9 points against a generic Democratic candidate before the party recruited a strong challenger, Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, into the race.
—The Arizona Senate race where John McCain led little known challenger Rodney Glassman only 49-33 in late April.
And those decidedly second tier races where we've seen Democratic candidates faring better than Lincoln are just in addition to the obvious pick up opportunities the party has in places like North Carolina, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio.
Between Barack Obama's unpopularity in her state and her own problems Lincoln is pretty much bound to be the Rick Santorum of this cycle- down a ton early and not ever able to really come close to catching up. National Democratic groups should use their resources elsewhere.
Jensen makes a good case. But the party committees are designed to prioritize protecting incumbents first. It would be surprising to see the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee dump Lincoln—even if pouring money into her race to no avail might hurt the party more than leaving her to her fate.