POLITICS
08/05/2014 06:27 pm ET | Updated Aug 05, 2014

HUFFPOLLSTER: Polls Find Pat Roberts Likely To Stave Off Primary Challenge

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Voters are headed to the polls in four more states. The uninsured rate is falling in states that welcomed the ACA. And America's hatred of Congress is getting personal. This is HuffPollster for Tuesday, August 5, 2014.

ANOTHER ROUND OF PRIMARIES KICKS OFF - Samantha Lachman: "Since Congress has left town for its five-week recess and focus is turning elsewhere, this week's elections across the country will be met with an even higher level of scrutiny. Six states have primaries over the course of six days: Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington on Tuesday; Tennessee on Thursday; and Hawaii on Saturday. One of the Democratic Party's few competitive Senate primaries will be decided in Hawaii, while Republican Sens. Pat Roberts (Kan.) and Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) appear to have fended off challenges from more-conservative primary opponents. Those accustomed to having a Rep. Dingell will probably continue having one -- John Dingell (D-Mich.), who is retiring after 59 years in Congress, will most likely be succeeded by his wife, Debbie. On the Republican side, an anti-abortion rights representative who pressured both his ex-wife and a patient who was his mistress to have abortions will see if voters have forgiven him for his hypocrisy. In another Republican race, a former Santa Claus impersonator and reindeer farmer could be booted out of Congress after just one term." [HuffPost]

Roberts leads in Kansas GOP Senate primary - Few of Tuesday's races are hotly contested enough to attract much public polling. The most prominent: Sen. Pat Roberts' (R-Kan.) re-election campaign against tea party-backed radiologist Milton Wolf. Though Roberts faced criticism earlier in the year after a New York Times article found he didn't own a home in Kansas, he easily surpassed Wolf in fundraising. All six publicly released surveys on the race give Roberts a double-digit lead -- the narrowest margin, in a poll conducted for the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, still has him 12 points ahead. (That group has since touted a more recent poll that they say narrows Roberts' lead to 9 points, but didn't provide any details about the pollster or methodology.) [Pollster chart]

More thoughts on what to watch for this week:

-Philip Elliott rounds out up some of the ballot measures and House races to look for. [AP]

-Abby Livingston lists six things to watch in Michigan and Kansas' House races. [Roll Call]

-Harry Enten says a Senate upset this week is unlikely, but there's more chance of an upset in Tennessee. [538]

UNINSURED RATES FALL IN STATES THAT WELCOMED ACA - Jeffrey Young: "Obamacare is already making a big difference in the states that actually embraced it. States that expanded Medicaid and created their own health insurance exchanges, or worked closely with the federal government to cover more people, have shown the largest drops in their uninsured rates this year, according to a new poll released by Gallup and Healthways on Tuesday. Leading the pack was Arkansas, where the uninsured rate has fallen by 10.1 percentage points so far this year, and Kentucky, where it has fallen 8.5 percentage points….The Gallup poll underscores the crucial role played by states, which varied in their approach to Obamacare from fully cooperating with its implementation to actively obstructing it….The results of those decisions are clear. States that welcomed the law saw significant drops in their uninsured rate, according to Gallup. The findings are consistent with other recent research showing the uninsured rate barely moved in states that didn't expand Medicaid." [HuffPost]

MOST AMERICANS NO LONGER LIKE THEIR OWN MEMBER OF CONGRESS - HuffPollster: "A majority 51 percent of Americans disapprove of their own congressional representative, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Tuesday. That's the first time in the quarter-century history of the poll that the disapproval rating has risen above 50 percent, outstripping even the 47 percent who disapproved during last year's government shutdown. Terrible ratings for Congress, which has an average approval rating of under 12 percent, are nothing new (a recent survey asking Americans how they'd fix Congress prompted such helpful suggestions as "lock them in a room together until they get along" and "well placed dynamite"). In the past, though, Americans have tended to feel more warmly toward their own district's representative than toward the legislative branch as a whole….That still doesn't mean that most incumbents' jobs are at risk. In the June before Republicans took back the House in 2010, 40 percent of Americans told Gallup their representative didn't deserve to be re-elected, yet 85 percent of members seeking re-election held onto their seats anyhow." [HuffPost, via WashPost]

AMERICANS WANT BETTER INFRASTRUCTURE, DON'T WANT TO PAY FOR IT - Joan Lowy and Jennifer Agiesta: "Small wonder Congress has kept federal highway and transit programs teetering on the edge of insolvency for years, unable to find a politically acceptable long-term source of funds. The public can't make up its mind on how to pay for them either. Six in 10 Americans think the economic benefits of good highways, railroads and airports outweigh the cost to taxpayers. Yet there is scant support for some of the most frequently discussed options for paying for construction of new roads or the upkeep of existing ones, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll….[A] majority of all Americans — 58 percent — oppose raising federal gasoline taxes to fund transportation projects such as the repair, replacement or expansion of roads and bridges. Only 14 percent support an increase. And by a better than 2-to-1 margin, Americans oppose having private companies pay for construction of new roads and bridges in exchange for the right to charge tolls. Moving to a usage tax based on how many miles a vehicle drives also draws more opposition than support — 40 percent oppose it, while 20 percent support it. Support for shifting more responsibility for paying for such projects to state and local government is a tepid 30 percent." [AP]

Similar findings - The results echo a HuffPost/YouGov survey in July, in which 45 percent of Americans said the federal government should spend more on infrastructure, and 64 percent that they live near at least a few unsafe bridges or roads. Just 30 percent, however, said they'd be willing to pay an additional 6 cents per gallon for gasoline. [HuffPost]

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TUESDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Democrats and independents say they're hearing more good news about jobs than they did in February; Republicans' minds haven't changed. [Pew Research]

- Public Policy Polling (D) finds a nearly tied Senate race in Arkansas, with Democrat Mark Begich leading challengers in Alaska. [PPP on Arkansas, Alaska]

-Civitas (R) has Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis deadlocked in the North Carolina Senate race. [Civitas]

-Most Americans say the U.S. should be even-handed toward the conflict in the Middle East. [WSJ]

-British, but not American opinions on the Middle East have shifted toward the Palestinians. [YouGov]

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