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As Romney Slides, Down-Ballot Fears Grow

By Shane Goldmacher
September 27, 2012 | 6:15 a.m.

As Mitt Romney’s standing in the polls slips, questions are emerging about whether the Republican presidential nominee may become a drag for the GOP down ticket.

Romney has plenty of time—and three nationally televised debates—during which he could recover. But on Wednesday, President Obama touched the 50 percent mark in Gallup’s tracking poll, holding a 50-44 percent advantage over Romney. A pair of Quinnipac/New York Times surveys showed the president with a 9-point lead in Florida and a 10-point advantage in Ohio. And polls last week had Obama opening a lead in Virginia as well.

Romney’s performance atop the ticket is critical for Republican chances of seizing control of the Senate. Some of the most competitive contests—in Nevada, Wisconsin, and Virginia, —are in presidential battleground states. And even in states expected to vote solidly Republican in the presidential contest, such as North Dakota and Montana, Republicans are counting on Romney to run up the score to put seats out of reach for the Democrats.

But this week, conservative Weekly Standard columnist Bill Kristol, citing generic party figures, floated the possibility of the GOP losing the House—an idea largely dismissed as fantasy talk in the political establishment. “Based on current polling, I don't think one can say that it's now out of the question,” he wrote.

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