Crossover Voting May Be Key To Watch in November Elections
If Clinton defeats Trump in the kind of landslide victory the polls are predicting in the immediate wake of the Democratic convention, a number of GOP senators are going to need significant shares of Clinton voters to cross over and support them, too.
That’s what’s happening in a Suffolk University poll in Florida this week. The poll shows Clinton with a 6-point lead over Trump in the presidential race, 48 percent to 42 percent.
But in a hypothetical Senate match-up between incumbent GOP Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy — both Rubio and Murphy are favored to win their primaries later this month — Rubio has a 13-point advantage, 46 percent to 33 percent. That’s because more than one-in-five Clinton supporters is choosing Rubio on the Senate ballot, according to the poll.
That prompts two key questions: Will that level of cross-over voting hold up? And can Republicans weather an even larger Clinton wave?
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), unlike Rubio, is struggling to outrun Trump in the same way in her campaign against popular Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan. A WBUR-FM poll this week, conducted by MassINC Polling Group, shows Ayotte winning only 11 percent of Clinton voters — not even close enough to help the first-term Republican withstand a 15-point Clinton lead on the presidential ballot.
Results were mixed in Pennsylvania: A Franklin & Marshall College poll this week gave Clinton an 11-point lead over Trump at the top of the ticket. But Democratic Senate candidate Katie McGinty only had a 1-point advantage over incumbent GOP Sen. Pat Toomey.
Cross-over voting has been on the decline in recent decades, which suggests the Senate contests will more closely reflect the presidential ballot on Election Day. If Trump’s candidacy continues to flag, expect to see Ayotte, Rubio, Toomey and a half-dozen other Republicans scramble to distance themselves even further.