You may have heard about a new poll conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post showing Democrats gaining ground on Republicans in the generic congressional ballot. Is this evidence that Democrats aren’t in as much trouble as we thought? Not necessarily, though things are certainly getting interesting. As Ed Morrissy points out, the poll has a flaw:
[H]ow did the Democrats manage this rather remarkable comeback? Well, the WaPo/ABC pollster managed to find their usual sample gap. They went from a 31/25/39 D/R/I split in September in the general sample and 31/26/37 among registered voters, to 33/23/29 in the general sample and 34/25/37 among registered voters. That nine-point advantage to Democrats among RVs is almost twice what it was in the previous sample.
To believe that this represents the electorate, we would have to believe that (a) Democrats have had a big month in attracting voters to their banner, (b) Republicans somehow lost a bunch of voters in the same period, and (c) Democrats now have an advantage outstripping their 2008 situation when they won the presidency by seven points in the popular vote. Not even their own poll supports any of those conclusions, and both Gallup and Rasmussen this year put the partisan ID split among the general population at between 1.5 and 3 points.
According a new poll of likely voters(!) from CNN, Republicans are up big against Democrats as we enter crunch time for the mid-term election:
Fifty-three percent of likely voters said they’d vote for a generic Republican candidate, versus 44 percent who said they would vote for a Democrat, according to a CNN/Opinion Research poll released Friday.
The 9 point advantage for the GOP is the largest advantage they’ve had so far this cycle. A little over a year ago, a poll conducted Oct. 30-Nov. 1, 2009, found that Democrats had a 50-44 percent advantage over Republicans.
The poll is the latest in a series of indicators that Republicans might be poised for major election-night gains. The GOP’s within striking distance of winning back the House, though race-by-race polling shows that winning back the Senate could be an uphill climb.
I’m glad to see a poll of likely voters, which gives us a better picture of what to expect in November. Democrats have put out some internal polls recently trying to dispell the picture of a party in disarray, but most analysts are predicting the GOP to pick up anywhere from 35 to 45 seats in the House.
Earlier today, Zach mentioned the Gallup numbers that came out yesterday. While I agree with him that Republicans need to focus on real issues (jobs should be the theme), the numbers from Gallup are confusing.
Last week, Gallup showed Republicans with a 10 point advantage in the generic ballot and a 25 point advantage in voter enthusiasm. This week Gallup shows both parties tied at 46% in the generic ballot, however, voter enthusiasm is exactly the same as it was the previous poll. It doesn’t pass the smell test.
For some reason Gallup is still measuring Registered rather than Likely Voters. With only eight weeks left to go until election day, the predictive value of a Registered Voter poll is fairly low.
Gallup has tracked registered voters in generic ballots. Other polling firms, such as a Rasmussen (+12 for GOP), Washington Post/ABC (+13 for GOP) and Wall Street Journal/NBC, are using likely voters to measure their numbers, which gives a more accurate picture of what we can expect in November.
In just one week the Democrats have closed a ten point gap on a generic ballot according to a Gallup Poll released yesterday:
The latest Gallup update on 2010 voting preferences marks the first time in over a month at which Republicans have not held an advantage among registered voters on Gallup’s weekly generic ballot update. This shift, coupled with the fact that Democrats led on the measure earlier in the summer, shows that voter sentiments are not immune to change. Hoping to prove this, Democrats from the president on down are gearing up to maximize their chances of keeping party control of the House, just as voter attention to the campaign is increasing after the Labor Day weekend.
While the Republicans are seemingly distracted by rabbit holes, as Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour called it, they have not seized the opportunity to clearly set an agenda to deal with the number one issue facing the American Voter this year; jobs, jobs, jobs.
Hoping to win by default just isn’t going to cut it. And playing on biases and cultural differences to score cheap political points will only work for so long. It is time for the Republicans to clearly articulate a plan for economic recovery.
Perhaps this poll can serve as the wakeup call the Republicans so desperately need. If they choose to stay on the path they are on, their wins will not be as great as they could be.
Last week, I remarked that after looking at the latest generic ballot numbers from Gallup, which showed the GOP with a 10 point advantage, that candidates like a B.J. Lawson, who we chatted with back in March, could be competitive in what has been considered a “safe Democratic” seat.
Well, a just released campaign internal shows B.J. Lawson, not just in the margin of error, but with a slight advantage over Rep. David Price (D-NC):
William (B.J.) Lawson, MD, Republican challenger to Rep. David Price in North Carolina’s Fourth District, announces a turning point in his campaign as a recent poll shows that 46.5 percent of likely voters would elect him, as opposed to 46.1 percent who would vote to re-elect 22-year incumbent Rep. Price.
“This proves that voters know that Washington insiders aren’t serving their best interests, especially not one who votes with Nancy Pelosi more than any other congressman,” said Dr. Lawson. “Nearly half of these respondents are Democratic voters, so regardless of political affiliation, Americans know you can’t spend yourself out of a recession just like you can’t drink yourself sober. Americans know that you need to cut taxes and wasteful government spending, stop the bailouts, and let North Carolina keep more of our money to allow us to create jobs and prosperity in our own communities. Americans are hurting and responsibly tightening their belts and their spending, so it’s time for the government to have enough respect for us to do the same.”
As Democrats run away from Speaker Nancy Pelosi like rats from the Titanic, the latest generic congressional ballot from Gallup shows Republicans taking an “unprecendented” 10 point lead over Democrats, 51% to 41%.
And the enthusiasm gap is continuing to grow between Republicans and Democrats, though a problem for the GOP is that independent voters don’t seem to be very interested in the mid-terms:
Were still nine weeks away from election day, the margin is going to fluctuate between now and then, but there is little doubt that Republicans are poised to pick up dozens of seats, potentially enough to take back the House of Representatives. But I would not be surprised to see candidates like a B.J. Lawson, for example, be competitive in what has been considered a “safe Democratic” seat.
Yesterday, as teaser to polling that will be released today, Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, released numbers from Ohio showing that voters in the Buckeye State miss George W. Bush(!):
[B]y a 50-42 margin voters there say they’d rather have George W. Bush in the White House right now than Barack Obama.
Over the weekend, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told the press that his party would retain the majority in the House.
Intrade, a website that keeps tabs on market trends, shows that there is a 77% chance that Republicans will take control of the House in November.
Current polling translates into a 50+ seat pick-up for Republicans, giving them much more than they need to take control.
The latest generic congressional ballot from Gallup shows Republicans finally hitting 50%, while Democrats are at 43%. Republicans also hold a 13 point advantage over Democrats (47% to 34%) among independent voters:
According to the chart below from FiveThirtyEight, a +7 advantage in the generic congressional ballot could translate into a 50+ seat pick-up in the House of Representatives, more than what is needed to take control of that chamber.
A new poll from CNN shows voter discontent with President Barack Obama mounting as a “generic Republican” would beat him in 2012:
Pres. Obama trails a generic GOPer in a WH ‘12 re-election bid, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released today. Among registered voters, fully half, 50%, said they were more likely to vote for a generic GOPer, while just 45% said they were more likely to vote for Obama.
While the numbers are striking, the generic ballot at this stage doesn’t always mean the incumbent pres. is destined for just one term. Prior to his re-election bid, George W. Bush never trailed a generic Dem, according to trends from what was then the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll. The closest a generic Dem came to Bush was 47-43% in Sept. ‘03.
Bill Clinton, on the other hand, trailed a generic opponent from the GOP by wide margins. In Dec. ‘94, a month after his party was drubbed at the polls in the midterm elections, the generic GOP candidate led Clinton, 53-39%.
CNN also tested the GOP contenders against one another in a national primary. Ex-MA Gov. Mitt Romney (21%) edged ahead of ex-AK Gov. Sarah Palin (18%), with ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (15%), ex-AR Gov. Mike Huckabee (14%) and Rep. Ron Paul (10%) trailing behind.
The poll was conducted with registered voters, which tends to tilt Democratic, so I would wager that the numbers are somewhat inflated. You can view more information on the poll here.
The latest weekly generic congressional ballot from Gallup shows Republicans maintaining their lead over Democrats as well as holding a 16 point advantage in voter enthusiasm.
Here is a look at voter enthusiasm: