Speed Reads

2014 Watch

Obama may not cost Democrats the Senate

Obama may not cost Democrats the Senate

Democrats are in a tough spot heading into the midterms. They face an unfavorable political climate, have more territory to defend, and President Obama's middling approval ratings could in theory drag them down come November. Yet at least in a few key Senate races in the South, the president's unpopularity isn't quite having that weighting effect, according to an NBC News/Marist poll out Monday.

In Kentucky, Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes trails Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) by a single point, 46 percent to 45 percent. In Georgia, Democrat Michelle Nunn fares well against all five of the top Republicans vying to compete in the general election, leading in two of those matchups, and trailing by at most four percentage points. And in Arkansas, incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor leads his GOP challenger, Tom Cotton, by 11 percentage points among registered voters.

Meanwhile, Obama's approval ratings in those states are, in order: 32 percent, 42 percent, and 34 percent. Hardly strong numbers.

All the usual caveats about the election being months away still apply, and Republicans have a clear advantage overall at this point. But the decent showing by Democratic candidates in spite of Obama's personal unpopularity suggests the president may not be dooming Democrats' odds of controlling the Senate come next year.