The Other Bennet

A third incumbent senator, Democrat Michael Bennet of Colorad, may be headed to a primary defeat.

Former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff takes a 48 percent to 45 percent lead over Bennet in the Survey USA poll conducted for the Denver Post. (Survey USA uses an automated system to conduct its interviews, a somewhat controversial methodology in the world of opinion research.)

This is a major turn of events.

In June, Romanoff trailed Bennet by 17 points but, as the challenger has raised his name identification statewide, his numbers have markedly improved.

The Bennet campaign begs to differ.

Seeking to blunt Romanoff's momentum from the poll release, Bennet issued poll numbers of his own on Sunday. In a survey conducted by Paul Harstad, Bennet held a 41 percent to 37 percent edge and, among the one-quarter of voters who had already cast their ballots via mail, the incumbent's lead was five points.

Undecideds will likely turn out to be the key.

Still, even in the Bennet poll, roughly one in five voters had yet to make up their minds about which candidate they preferred -- never a good sign for an incumbent, even one who has spent as little time in Washington as Bennet. (He was appointed to the seat in early 2009, following Sen. Ken Salazar's ascension to a post as Secretary of the Interior in the Obama Administration.)

It will continue to be a tough year for those viewed as part of the Washington status quo.

If Bennet comes up short in next Tuesday's primary he will join Sens. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) and Bob Bennett (R-Utah) who have already lost their bids for renomination this year. Already more Senators have fallen in primary races this cycle than in any election since 1980 when four incumbents fell short in intraparty contests.