WASHINGTON (CNN) – Chris Shays of Connecticut, the last Republican in the House of Representatives from New England, is used to running against the partisan tide. But this year, the wave might be too high for the Republican congressman to overcome.
Shays is just one of many GOP candidates trying to win by outperforming Sen. John McCain's underwhelming performance in congressional districts nationwide.
McCain, R-Arizona, trailed Illinois Sen. Barack Obama by 21 points in Connecticut's 4th District, according to an October 13-14 SurveyUSA poll for Roll Call newspaper. A just-released University of Connecticut poll and a mid-September survey by the Democratic Feldman Group also had Obama winning by at least 20 points. By comparison, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry won the district by just 6 points four years ago.
Recent public and private polling shows Shays either tied with or trailing his Democratic opponent Jim Himes. In 2004, Shays got 6 more points than President Bush, but the congressman will need a significantly larger number of Obama voters to cross over this year.
McCain's non-existent coattails run counter to the initial conventional wisdom that said his moderate style and crossover appeal would lift Republican candidates down ballot. That's just not the case two weeks out from Election Day.