Three new CNN/Time/Opinion research polls out yesterday, like the Gallup poll released a day earlier, show that the predicted Republican wave in the mid-term elections could be failing to materialize.

Republican Senate nominee and Tea Party leader Rand Paul is in a dead heat with the Democratic candidate Jack Conway in Kentucky, according to a new CNN-Time-Opinion Research poll of voters. The same poll showed similar results in Florida and California, two other states that have been major media candidates for a so-called right wing “tsunami” this fall.

Some of the dent in Republican support in Kentucky is attributed to the labor movement which has been doing mailings, going door-to-door, and visiting members at their work sites.

Workers are hearing about thinks like President Obama’s proposals to send more money for infrastructure to the sates and the potential that would have for job creation in Kentucky. Bill Londigran, president of the state’s AFL-CIO, said the additional funds could help restore crumbling roads and aging bridges and be used to develop modern rail systems. “This would drive Kentucky’s economy forward by creating local jobs that could not be shipped overseas,” Londigran said.

One of Kentucky’s two current senators is Mitch McConnell, the Republican Minority Leader of the Senate and prime organizer of the filibusters used to block progressive legislation. “He has turned a deaf ear to Kentucky workers and, along with Senate candidate Rand Paul, has shown he cares more about the interests of the wealthy elite and corporate CEO’s,” said Londrigan.

The fact that Republicans in Kentucky are in no better a position than a dead heat is even more impressive considering the GOP carried the state comfortably in the elections only two years ago and the heavy campaign contributions to the GOP by several of the state’s big corporations.

Two of the nation’s most anti-union coal companies, operators of mines where 41 workers have been killed in recent years, have pumped loads of cash into Republican coffers, according to reports in the Lexington Herald Leader. The companies, Massey Energy and International Coal Group, have pooled their funds and their efforts to ensure the defeat of Jack Conway and the election of Paul.

“Between them, ICG and Massey have had 41 miners killed in just two disasters,” said Tony Oppegard, a former Mine Safety and Health Administration official in Kentucky. “It’s disturbing to see companies that don’t have strong safety records try to defeat politicians who have fought for stronger mine safety.”

Across the country, in California too, the Republican wave is not materializing.

Incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer, a Democrat, is leading Republican Carly Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard CEO, by a margin of 48 percent to 44 percent.

In the governor’s race to replace Arnold Schwarzenegger the Republican, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, and the Democrat, Jerry Brown, are statistically tied with 48 to 46 percent, respectively.

Boxer has focused heavily on Fiorina’s extensive job slashing while she was doing her job as Hewlett-Pachard’s CEO.

Polls in California show widespread dislike for the Bush tax cuts for the rich the GOP wants to continue. Headlines earlier this week about President Obama drawing a line in the sand on the cuts, running while the latest polls were taken, probably also helped boost Democratic totals.

The California totals, showing Boxer ahead of Fiorina, are also impressive because of the money Wall Street, the insurance companies and real estate firms have been pumping onto Fiorina’s campaign – $650,000, officially, as of late last week. The latest polls are bad news for Republicans who have considered the California race as one of their best opportunities to pick up a seat.

There’s also no Republican wave in sight in Florida, another state, like California, where the surf is almost always up.

The polls show Republican Marco Rubio and independent Charlie Crist are neck and neck in the race for Mel Martinez’s old Senate seat.

Rubio, a former Florida house speaker, leads Crist, a former Republican and the current governor, by the statistically insignificant 36 percent to 34 percent. Democratic representivie Kendrick Meek has 24 percent.

In the governor’s race, Democrat Alan Sink is leading Republican billionaire Rick Scott 49 percent to 42 percent.

E.J. Dionne argued in a Truthdig article yesterday that if Republicans expect to win it is they who had better start defining themselves. “If they don’t, Obama, who has labeled them the party of stagnant growth, eroding competitiveness and a shrinking middle class, is now happy to do it for them. And that’s what changed (after the president’s speeches this week) in Milwaukee and Cleveland.”


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.