[Posted by Karl]
Rep. Vic Snyder (D) has had it pretty easy in Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District since his election in 1996. In this century, he has generally won re-election by roughly 15% margins. He ran unopposed in 2008. The Cook Political Report has considered it a “Tier 2″ district leaning Democratic.
According to Public Policy Polling (PPP) — a Democratic firm — those days are over:
Snyder’s approval rating is now 42%, with 46% of voters in the district disapproving of him. He’s at a solid 75% in his own party but with independents the spread is 30/56 and with Republicans it’s just 12/75.
A lot of Snyder’s issues can probably be traced to overall feelings about his party. 54% of voters in the district disapprove of the job Congressional Democrats are doing, 52% disapprove of Barack Obama’s job performance, and 50% express the feeling that Congressional Democrats are too liberal. Additionally 55% of voters say they’re opposed to the health care bill the House passed last week with Snyder’s support, including 91% of Republicans and 67% of independents. Snyder seems to be bearing the brunt of a lot of animosity toward national Democrats in his district.
The practical implication of all this is that the district looks like a toss up for next year. In possible 2010 match ups Snyder leads Tim Griffin 44-43, Scott Wallace 44-42, and David Meeks 45-42. Those close margins come despite the fact that none of the Republican candidates are well known- 67% of voters have no opinion about Griffin, 75% say the same of Wallace, and 78% are ambivalent toward Meeks.
The Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman sniffs that the poll “confirms what we already knew: Obama radioactive in AR.” But PPP chose AR-2 as a “test case for whether the political climate is so bad for Dems right now that districts that haven’t been in the top tier of competitiveness for years might be in play, and it looks like the answer is yes.” Moreover, PPP’s description of the internals further deflates the lefty theory that that the GOP brand is so damaged that the 2010 Congressional campaign will not end as badly for the Dems as the 1994 campaign:
Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District is a good example of this. 16% of voters there don’t like the Democrats or the Republicans. But they give all three of Democratic Congressman Vic Snyder’s potential opponents leads of 37-40 points and they give the possible Blanche Lincoln foes we tested leads of 42-43 points.
There are very few people who dislike Congressional Democrats planning to vote for them this year anyway. But there are a fair number of people who dislike Congressional Republicans who are still planning to give them a chance.
It’s not just Arkansas, either. PPP’s analysis of the Independent vote in Virginia an New Jersey suggested that bloc had two components: (1) conservative voters voters who don’t call themselves Republican; and (2) true swing voters, who may be looking for a division of power. Voters do not have to love the GOP to love gridlock. Vic Snyder didn’t hear the alarm bells from those two states. He — and other Dems in swing districts — might want to start listening to them ringing now.