A new set of polls from the New York Times and Kaiser Family Foundation have political observers buzzing this morning because they show Democrats still have a fighting chance in four key Southern Senate races.
Arkansas: Sen. Mark Pryor (D) 46 percent, Tom Cotton (R) 36 percent
Kentucky: Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) 44 percent, Alison Lundergran Grimes (D) 43 percent
Louisiana: Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) 42 percent, Bill Cassidy (R) 18 percent
North Carolina: Sen. Kay Hagan (D) 42 percent, Thom Tillis (R) 40 percent
These results are a big deal because the battle for control of the Senate will almost certainly be decided by these races.
Morning Line does the math: "Republicans need to gain six seats to take control of the Senate. After West Virginia, South Dakota, and Montana, which appear to be the most likely GOP pick-ups, three of the next four targets for Republicans are in the South (the other being Alaska). If Democrats are able to keep states like Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina competitive through November, and force Republicans to play some defense in Kentucky, then it will be a positive sign for the party's chances of holding onto the majority in the Senate."
Some key takeaways from these polls:
1. Sen. Mark Pryor's (D-Ark.) job approval is holding steady despite early attacks by Rep. Tom Cotton (R). This is the fourth recent poll that shows him leading the race.
2. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) is still highly vulnerable, particularly once Republicans settle on their nominee. First Read says the race "is headed — as we've said before — to be this cycle's true bellwether for Senate control, because it's truly a 'generic D' vs 'generic R' result."
3. Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D-La.) support of 42 percent in a jungle primary isn't where an incumbent wants to be in a runoff.
4. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is truly in the fight of his life as nearly every poll in recent months finds the race a true toss-up.
Also interesting, as First Read notes: The Democratic governors in Arkansas and Kentucky are very popular (Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe has a 68 percent approval rating, and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has a 56 percent rating), while the GOP governors in Louisiana and North Carolina are in rough shape (Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is at 40 percent, and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is at 43 percent).