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  Politics and Elections
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Startling evidence of how bad it may be in November
Until now, I have been worried that the GOP may not realize the potential gains in Congress that appear to be there for the taking. Sure, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are disliked by the voting public.  Their approval ratings are dismal.  But, then I look at the approval ratings of Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.  Theirs are much worse.  Polling is all over the place.  And sometimes I fear the Tea Party movement is overreaching (e.g.: Sharron Angle) and providing the liberal media with plentiful ammunition to paint the GOP as way too radical for mainstream America.

Until now, that is.

I feel quite a bit differently today after stumbling across the most important and telling poll I've seen in this cycle.  The poll tests the 60 Democratic and 10 Republican House seats deemed to be the most vulnerable.  The findings are nothing short of remarkable.  From the top line numbers to the in depth analysis, the survey reveals an overwhelming red wave barreling its way toward November 2nd.

I'm going to evaluate and respond to several aspects of the poll's results, but before that, I want to let the Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner react to their own work.  (Actually, they collaborated with a Republican counterpart, Public Opinion Strategies, in conducting the poll.)  Here's part of what GQR had to say.

The results are a wake-up call for Democrats whose losses in the House could well exceed 30 seats.  In the named-congressional ballot in the 60 Democratic districts, Democrats trail their Republican opponent, 42 to 47 percent, with only a third saying they want to vote to re-elect their member.  In the top tier of 30 most competitive seats, the Democratic candidate trails by 9 points (39 to 48 percent) and by 2 points in the next tier of 30 seats (45 to 47 percent).  On the other hand, the Republican candidates are running well ahead in their most competitive seats (53 to 37 percent).
With an aggregate 9-point deficit, the Democrats will be hard-pressed not to lose 90% or more of their thirty most vulnerable seats.  Among the second tier 30, a 2-point GOP lead would translate to roughly 16 seats or so more.  That's 27 and 16.  Forty-three.  On the Republican side, these numbers indicate that truly vulnerable GOP seats are practically non-existent.  Looking at individual Republican seats, however, it's clear that a couple are very likely to end up in the Democratic column after Election Day.  So, we'll subtract three from the takeover count.  That leaves a 40-seat net gain for Republicans.  It also adds up to a GOP majority, folks.

But there's more to be happy in this survey if you like red political maps.  Again, from GQR's own analysis.

62 percent of Republicans in Democratic districts describe themselves as very enthusiastic about the upcoming election.  That compares with 37 percent of Democrats in those same districts.
This is more compelling evidence that polls measuring registered voters are missing the true picture - badly.  A twenty-five point enthusiasm gap is monumental.  It will prove to be much too much for many a Democratic incumbent to overcome.

But the good news doesn't end there.  Beyond an enthusiasm gap, these Democratic districts are witnessing a mass exodus from Democratic candidates.  In 2008, survey respondents in blue districts voted for the Democratic congressional candidate by double-digit margins in both Tier 1 (48-37%) and Tier 2 (50-35%) races.  Computing the difference between those numbers and the poll's findings for 2010, Republicans enjoy 20-point and 17-point improvements in Tier 1 and Tier 2 districts, respectively.

So what's driving this enthusiasm, and is it sustainable?  According to Talking Points Memo's analysis of the survey, unless Democrats change their narrative on the issues or succeed in winning back voters to their way of thinking, these numbers are not likely to change in their favor.  Republicans win hands down not just as un-Democrats, but as better alternatives on the issues.

The poll of 60 Dem-held districts and 10 GOP-held districts found voters across the board favoring Republican candidates on the generic ballot tests, as well as agreeing more with Republican messages on the economy, health care and other issues.
These findings are remarkable not just for the rosy picture they paint for Republicans in November, but also in the depth of distaste voters have for the policies of the current administration and its cohorts on Capitol Hill.  With less than 5 month's to go until the first tangible referendum on Obama's presidency, signs point unmistakably to a fundamental and substantial shift toward the GOP and more conservative policies.  Job approval of sitting incumbents in these districts further illustrates that the mood out there is anti-Democrat, not so much anti-incumbent.  Those approving of their congressman's performance in Democrat-held districts are just 40% with 38% disapproving.  In Republican-held areas, voter approval of the incumbent is 22% greater than voter disapproval (54% to 32%).  That hardly fits an anti-incumbent message.

Clearly, after experiencing the effects of complete Democratic control in Washington for the last 18 months, voters seem eager to give Republicans another chance in 2010.

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