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U.S. Senator Bob Menendez. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Tight races in four states boost Menendez’s committee chair prospects

Democrats in South Carolina, Kentucky, Maine, Iowa within striking distance of GOP incumbents, polls say

By Nikita Biryukov, August 06 2020 4:37 pm

Four Republican senators in states around the country are facing tight challenges that could make U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-North Bergen) chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday found Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) leads Democratic challenger Amy McGrath 49%-44% with 5% of voters undecided. Of those who’ve chosen a candidate, 11% said they might change their minds.

McConnell’s job approvals were a little underwater, with 46% approving and 44% disapproving.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) face tighter races.

The poll found equal support for Graham and challenger Jamie Harrison. Each got the support of 44% of respondents, while 9% said they were undecided.

More South Carolina voters disapproved, 47%, of the job Graham was doing than approved, 43%.

Zack Carrol, who ran Rep. Andy Kim’s (D-Marlton) 2018 campaign, is managing Harrison’s Senate bid.

Collins situation is the direst. The four-term senator trails Democrat Sara Gideon 43%-47% with 6% of voters undecided.

The incumbent’s approvals were further underwater than those of her comrades. Just 43% approved of the job she was doing, while 52% disapproved.

“She has both defied President Trump and backed him to the hilt,” Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy said. “An embattled Republican in a northeastern state, Senator Collins faces the political challenge of her life.”

President Donald Trump still holds leads over former Vice President Joe Biden in the two southern states — he’s up over Biden 50%-41% in Kentucky and 47%-42% in South Carolina — but Biden holds a 15-point lead on the president in Maine, 52%-37%.

The President holds net-positive approvals in Kentucky and South Carolina, 49%-47% in both states, but Maine voters disapprove of the job he’s been doing 60%-37%.

If Democrats will take the majority in the Senate if they win three seats and the presidency. If Biden loses, they’d need four seats.

A Monmouth University poll released Wednesday found Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) holds a narrow three-point lead over challenger Theresa Greenfield, leading the Democrat 48%-45%.

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