The government shutdown is finally coming to an end, but the political fallout is just getting started.
The shutdown could give Democrats hoping to hold their seats or ascend to the Senate in 2014 a powerful talking point. According to a survey released Wednesday by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling, Democrats pull ahead in the polls when voters learn that they opposed the shutdown.
Republicans currently are either tied or behind in six key Senate races that are likely to determine control of the Senate next November. In Georgia, Michigan, Louisiana, Arkansas, North Carolina and Iowa, voters overwhelmingly disapprove of the shutdown and are more likely to support Democrats when they learn they opposed the shutdown.
In North Carolina, where Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan is fighting to keep her seat in a state that went for Mitt Romney last November, the poll shows Hagan leading a generic Republican 47 percent to 42 percent. When respondents were told that Hagan opposed the shutdown, her lead increased to 49 percent against 41 percent.
Then there’s Georgia, a red state with an open Senate seat where the Democratic candidate, Michelle Nunn, is tied at 42 percent with a generic Republican challenger. When respondents were told that the Republican nominee is likely to be a House Republican who supported the shutdown, Nunn’s lead jumps six points, becoming 48 percent to 42 percent.
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This holds true not just for new candidates like Nunn but vulnerable incumbents like Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Mark Pryor, D-Ark. If this dynamic holds up over the next several months, Democrats will be sure to milk it for all it's worth.
Each state poll was conducted between Oct. 14-15 and has a margin of error between 3 percent and 4 percent plus or minus.