Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
Wall Street Journal
By Patrick O'Connor
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce building is seen in Washington in this Aug. 4, 2009 file photo.(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
Republicans will face far better odds of retaking the Senate, if they can make a state like Hawaii competitive.
A new round of polling from the business-friendly U.S Chamber of Commerce suggests President Barack Obama’s home state might actually be in play.
Republican former Gov. Linda Lingle leads Democratic Rep. Mazie Hirono, 47% to 41%, to fill a seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka, according to a new poll released by the Chamber. Earlier polls show the Democrat with a solid lead.
The Chamber, which rarely discloses poll results, released the Hawaii numbers along with the results of public-opinion surveys for Senate races in Montana and Virginia that also show the Republican candidates outpacing their Democratic opponents.
The results reinforce the Chamber’s early round of television ads in each of the state’s where the group is releasing its polls. The group has promised to spend at least $50 million on the November elections, largely in support of Republican candidates in the most competitive House and Senate races.
In Montana, the Chamber survey shows Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg leading Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, 49% to 42%, and the Virginia poll showed Republican former Sen. George Allen with a five percentage-point advantage over Democrat Tim Kaine, the former governor and Democratic National Committee chairman.
Polls in Virginia show a range of results, with most favoring Mr. Kaine, while Mr. Rehberg holds a narrow lead in most of the earlier surveys of the Montana race. But while both of those elections are expected to be close, a tight race in Hawaii would be a welcome development for the GOP in its quest to regain control of the Senate.
Rob Engstrom, the Chamber’s national political director, said Republicans have a chance in Hawaii because Ms. Lingle is a strong candidate with a uniquely bipartisan appeal — a necessary trait in a state that most expect to vote heavily for Mr. Obama.
“Linda Lingle may well be the best candidate in the nation this year,” he said.