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The Generic Ballot, 2010, and a Republican Resurgence?

Gallup Chart.jpg

A slew of new national polls released over the last 24 hours show Republicans narrowing what had been a wide gap on the generic ballot question -- "do you plan to vote for the Democratic candidate or the Republican candidate in 2010" -- over the past two elections, results that suggest the GOP may be on the road to recovery on the Congressional level.

Let's first look at the data.

* The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal survey showed the Democratic candidate receiving 46 percent to the Republican candidate's 39 percent -- the closest Republicans have been on the generic ballot in that poll since April 2006.

* A National Public Radio poll, conducted jointly by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (a Democratic firm) and Public Opinion Strategies (a Republican firm) showed the generic ballot as a dead heat: 43 percent chose the Republican candidate while 42 percent opted for the Democratic candidate.

* A Gallup poll (in the chart above) showed a Democratic candidate receiving 50 percent to a Republican candidate's 44 percent, a tightening of the wider margin -- 53 percent to 41 percent -- that Democrats enjoyed in Gallup data just before the 2008 election.

As we have written many times in this space, it's important when looking at the generic ballot to understand what it does and what it doesn't.

It doesn't double as a predictor of specific results in a congressional district. It does, usually, serve as an accurate guide to the feelings that voters have about the two parties.

Given that, there is reason for Republicans to be optimistic about where they stand in the battle for Congress.

"It's going to be a bad year for the incumbent party," Democratic pollster Peter Hart told NBC'S "First Read. "It may not affect the president as much as it will affect the party and the makeup of the Congress."

And this from the Gallup analysis: "The six-point Democratic advantage among all registered voters in the current poll suggests the 2010 election could be quite close if it were held today given low turnout in midterm elections and the usual Republican advantages in turnout."

The decline in Democrats' advantage on the generic ballot gibes with historical trends that suggest the midterm of a president's first term in office usually sees substantial gains at the House and, to a less er extent, the Senate level.

In only one similar election since World War II has the president's party not lost seats in the House and that came in 2002 when the overarching cultural and political effects of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were still being felt.

Couple the generic ballot numbers with that historical trend and sprinkle in the facts that Republican recruiting has vastly improved over this time in the past few election cycle and that Democrats' 54 seat gain in 2006 and 2008 left them defending some very Republican seats and you quickly draw the conclusion that Republicans are poised to cut into the 40-seat majority House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) currently enjoys.

How big a dent they can put into that majority remains to be seen.

For more on the top House pickup opportunities for both parties, make sure to check out tomorrow's Friday Line.

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 30, 2009; 10:48 AM ET
Categories:  House  
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Comments

Barack HOOVER Obama.

Posted by: JakeD | July 31, 2009 1:16 AM | Report abuse

GOP savior Mitch Daniels!! GOP savior Mitt Romney!! GOP savior Newt Gingrich!!

RESURGENCE IS POPPIN OUT ALL OVER.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 30, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Consider that conservatives outnumber liberals two to one

==

Change the question to "progressive" from the deprecated "liberal" and watch the line creep.

Americans love conservative tough talk. We don't like conservative policies and the GOP remains down there in third-party status.

Sorry.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 30, 2009 10:17 PM | Report abuse

True nodebris, but more than that Chris just keeps on echoing the same talking points about "THE REPUBLICAN RESURGENCE!" and "EVERYONE HATES OBAMA AND THE DEMOCRATS ARE DOOMED!"

I would like to see Chris do a column writing about a party's political strength state-by-state. Tell us how Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, was able to get elected as governor of Wyoming, one of the most conservative states in the U.S. How has the Democratic Party been able to maintain its grip on West Virginia when the national party is more than the state itself?

Posted by: fable104 | July 30, 2009 4:44 PM
________
Politics are all local: The relative strength of the candidates and how local issues resonate.

In Va., McDonnell (GOP) leads Deeds in the polls, not because of some national GOP resurgence, but because Mac is a much better candidate, he is better known, and he has done black outreach (unlike Deeds, who has done none). Gilmore (Rep.) won the governorship handily several years ago on one single issue, abolition of the car tax.

No neutral analyst (see Larry Sabato) is predicting any GOP comeback except maybe in specific isolated cases.

Demographic changes, which the GOP can't stop (see Colin Powell's recent take on Larry King) or offset even with voter suppression or trick machines or hyperactive Yahoo turnout, have doomed the GOP for two or three generations at least. Lou Dobbs, Rush, and Hannity have guaranteed that.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | July 30, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Someone should count how many columns Chris has dedicated to his ideas of a Republican comeback."

I guess being a political commentator could become fairly boring if it does not happen. They need a race.

Posted by: nodebris | July 30, 2009 12:51 PM
____________

At least it wasn't another post about "Palin 2012" or "Chip (Magic N-gro CD) Salsman" is really a good guy. This is GOP comeback line is just a neo-con talking point being fronted here and at politico.com. (Drudge's role is to cherry-pick anti-BHO polls (see Rasmussen).)

But to answer your question, I think its the fifth "article" on "GOP comebacks."

In a lengthy data-based analysis, "Kos" of Daily Kos totally destroys this new "GOP-comeback" false narrative being pushed today. Excerpt:

"The 2010 map isn't a friendly one for Republicans. The usual political prognosticators (Charlie Cook, Stu Rothenberg, CQ Politics, Swing State Project, and Larry Sabato) all give Democrats the edge, with just the ethically challenged Dodd in Connecticut generally making the list of endangered Democrats, while Republicans are facing serious pressure in Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Ohio. Louisiana and North Carolina aren't far behind. The May 2010 special election in Texas won't be a GOP cakewalk."

Full story:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/7/30/759241/-Republicans-flee-Congress-in-droves,-Politico-gives-them-upper-hand

Posted by: broadwayjoe | July 30, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Well, the poll that was used to make the graph isn't much use, since it appears to be a predictor of the 2006 elections. What it probably measures is the whims of people who are willing to talk to anyone on the phone solong as they actually get a "real, live, person" to talk to.

None of the quoted polls give a non response rate, none give sample size and none state whether it was a strictly landline poll.

It can't mean much, except as a leader for republicans to attach to the hook they need to reel in the big fish donors they need post haste.

It only has to look enough like food so that, as you take it away from the bass, the bass will decide to eat it just on case.

Posted by: ceflynline | July 30, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

True nodebris, but more than that Chris just keeps on echoing the same talking points about "THE REPUBLICAN RESURGENCE!" and "EVERYONE HATES OBAMA AND THE DEMOCRATS ARE DOOMED!"

I would like to see Chris do a column writing about a party's political strength state-by-state. Tell us how Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, was able to get elected as governor of Wyoming, one of the most conservative states in the U.S. How has the Democratic Party been able to maintain its grip on West Virginia when the national party is more than the state itself?

Posted by: fable104 | July 30, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

THESE POLLS RESULTS UNDERSCORE WHY TEAM OBAMA
MUST ACT ON PRINCIPLE AND NOT ON EXPEDIENCY

• High time to restore civil and human rights by dismantling the secretive, multi-agency Bush-Cheney extrajudicial "vigilante injustice network."


President Obama has been co-opted into becoming the public servicce ad spokesman and enabler of a federally-funded and overseen "multi-agency coordinated action" program of nationwide extrajudicial targeting and punishment...

...misusing federally-funded volunteer programs to subvert the rule of law.

This nationwide, federal-local apparatus has deployed a civilian vigilante army that covertly implants GPS tracking devices to stalk, persecute, vandalize and harass unjustly "targeted" citizens and their families...

...reportedly, even when they seek medical treatment at health care facilities.

This multi-agency program also misuses government surveillance operations to censor, and maliciously tamper with, the telecommunications of many thousands of the unjustly targeted -- and, victims maintain, funnels surveillance data to citizen "gang stalker" harassers.

An array of "programs of personal financial destruction" decimates the finances of "target" families.

And microwave "directed energy weapons" are being used to degrade their very lives -- a gross violation of human rights, government-enabled crimes against humanity.

And no authorities will investigate -- invoking the "Gulag" tactic of dismissing those who seek justice as "delusional."

Please, Team Obama: Wake up and smell the police state that is co-opting your administration and making POTUS a pitchman and enabler for an American Gestapo.


http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america

OR (if link is corrupted / disabled):

http://My.NowPublic.com/scrivener RE: "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | July 30, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

The R's don't have any new ideas -- they still beleive in all the stuff that destroyed the economy. Why would anyone other than a total fool vote for them?

Posted by: drindl | July 30, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

On Hardball yesterday, Republican Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia cited an interesting statistic, 78 of the 100 districts with the highest levels of education went Democratic in 2008. Republicans have become the party of the uneducated, the rich, and racists. The Republicans will gain if they get enough stupid people excited over abortion & gay rights, while stealing their middle class lifestyle. Look at Rep. Tom Price from my home state run from a question on whether Obama was born in America. Sen. Al Franken had it right when he wrote about "Lies and the Liars that are Telling Them!"

Posted by: georgiaguy | July 30, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

"Someone should count how many columns Chris has dedicated to his ideas of a Republican comeback."

I guess being a political commentator could become fairly boring if it does not happen. They need a race.

Posted by: nodebris | July 30, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Two of the three polls you cite show the Democrats still with a substantial lead over the Republicans.

Posted by: nodebris | July 30, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

The Obama free-fall is real and good Dem candidates like Va's Deeds, sadly, may pay the price.

The Pres has a huge ego and precious little grip on reality. (Note that this progressive Dem said much the same thing about Bush, Obama's partner in Wall Street bailouts.)

The Obama health 'reform' is mostly about Medicare/Medicaid cuts and rationing. In the current economy this plan kills a lot of poorer and older people--most of whom are Democrats. Few down-ticket Dem candidates are apt to survive the fallout.

Posted by: bjerryberg | July 30, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

And Chris posts yet another column on his theories of a Republican resurgence. Someone should count how many columns Chris has dedicated to his ideas of a Republican comeback.

Posted by: fable104 | July 30, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

FairlingtonBlade:

I sent you an e-mail ; )

Posted by: JakeD | July 30, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

"So not only is the poll too early; as RickJ suggested in the first post it is too broad based. "

Although I wonder if there is any correlation between the generic ballot and the eventual makeup of the House. It's like taking polls for the Presidential election. Meaningless in the sense that you have fifty states and an electoral college, but meaningful in that any candidate who wins the popular vote by a few percent is almost certainly going to win the electoral college.

Now obviously its different with the House since each race has its own candidates, but I wonder if the generic ballot has a predictive value on either the final makeup of Congress or at least a shift in direction. It seems like the best thing we have to go on now is a regression to the mean.

Posted by: DDAWD | July 30, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

This poll basically is about anxiety. Anxiety about the state of the economy. Anxiety about a still ill-defined health care reform. Anxiety (that I share) about deficit spending. So, that's going to eat into the lead the Dems have had. Don't forget, the 1982 election was damaging to the Republicans. It didn't stop morning in America in 1984.

@Drindl - Vbhoomes is roughly write (or perhaps right), but not telling the whole story. That is the bulk of those who characterize themselves as moderate voted against the Heffalumps a couple of years ago.

@Jake - Or Al Gore. You got a president, we got a senator. Push.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | July 30, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

"It took Bush 8 years to become very unpopular"

He was actually one of the most unpopular presidents to win reelection. I don't mean his final popularity. I'm referring to his popularity at the time of the election.

Posted by: DDAWD | July 30, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

AndyR3 posted:

"That being said the GOP has set themselves up for either a big win or a HUGE fall if the economy turns around or if the Healthcare reform package is well received when it come out this fall."

I think that is solid as far as it goes. But what we may see is a mixed and/or regional recovery. Tx is not suffering but Rs will still carry the state, in large part.
I think CA may still be in extremis, as will MI.

Andy, your beloved NC is a more likely recovery model because it did not have the housing bust of NV, CA, AZ, or the auto bust of MI.

So not only is the poll too early; as RickJ suggested in the first post it is too broad based.

As mnteng would write: "meh".

Posted by: mark_in_austin | July 30, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse


'Consider that conservatives outnumber liberals two to one '

yes, that must be why there was a democratic sweep last election.

LOL

Posted by: drindl | July 30, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Consider that conservatives outnumber liberals two to one and the longer you hold power the more political hits you take, a rational peron would put his money on the republican party in 2010. Obama is already polling below Bush at this stage of his term. It took Bush 8 years to become very unpopular, Consider that Obama has a fawning press corp, you know he is in deep trouble. he better do what Bill Clinton did, run not walk to the political center.

Posted by: vbhoomes | July 30, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

What's with the dates at the bottom of the graph (Sept. '05 to Nov '06)? Old data or a typo?

Posted by: comtedevergennes | July 30, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Oh well, another day of CC pimping Republicans and their prospects. Meanwhile, huge political news is happening and it is only about what the Democrats are doing.

Chris, I realize you are not on a Capitol Hill beat, but seriously, Republicans are not relevant to what is going on today in American politics at the national level.

We, American voters decided that only Democrats should be allowed to make the decisions that affect all of us. Lets focus speculation on people who matter, on people we care about (hint: not Sarah Palin, not Mark Sanford, not...not..).

Posted by: shrink2 | July 30, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

There will be change you can count on in 2010. Whether Red or Blue these Spendocrats who have abridged their fiduciary duty to their constituents by rubber stamping huge failed bills, who failed to read or debate these bills will find themselves kicked to the curb. It is not a resurgence of Republicans, it will be fiscally moderate voters coming to the polls looking for blood. Pelosi, Reid, Dodds, Franks and their ilk are going to find out what it means.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | July 30, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Kind of like believing if you whip a dead horse long enough, it will get up on its feet.

Posted by: drindl | July 30, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Another day, another Fix post touting the "Republican Resurgence".

Posted by: Blarg | July 30, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

The only poll that counts (unless you voted for Norm Coleman) is on Election Day.

Posted by: JakeD | July 30, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

dbitt writes
"Considering Republican voter registration hasn't made any significant gains percentage-wise and that only 20-some percent of voters self-identify as Republicans, I'd say it's early to consider a Republican resurgence just yet."


I agree. It is too soon to draw conclusions about a 'resurgence'. I am also curious about how they modeled their samples - particularly in reflecting party makeup.

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 30, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

This shouldn't be a surprise. Republican polling numbers were bound to improve at some point, if only because of the publics' rapidly fading memories of the Bush administration.

AndyR3 hit the nail on the head. At the moment, this seems to be more of a re-balancing as reality sets in, not a trend back to Republicans. Now, if the R's show steady gains six months in a row, that would be a different story, but we're a long way from being able to establish that.

Let's see where the polls are a year from now.

Posted by: Gallenod | July 30, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Considering Republican voter registration hasn't made any significant gains percentage-wise and that only 20-some percent of voters self-identify as Republicans, I'd say it's early to consider a Republican resurgence just yet.

Yeah, history is on the side of the Republicans making some gains in 2010, but let's not forget that they are WAY behind right now and would need a tsunami to achieve even parity with the Democrats at this point. And if they continue to be the Party of No (and the Party of Exclusion), that's going to be a real challenge in '10.

Posted by: dbitt | July 30, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Isn't this a little early to be writing the obituary when not only has the fat lady not sung, but she's still getting dressed (and that takes a long time). A health care success story is far from dead, and neither is energy legislation. People should be better informed about the plausibility of a stimulus package working in 4 months. Republican appointed Bernanke talks about positive signs in the economy. Let's wait until the opera really gets going. Thus far, many in the media and chattering class are treating this as the Marx Brothers Night at the Opera.

Posted by: Tony163 | July 30, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Oh, for christ's sake. Again with the republican cheerleading. You show a poll that indicates that Democrats are still solidly preferred by voters and you call that a republican resurgence?

Only in the minds of the rightwing Beltway Bubbleheads.

Nice wishful thinking there, buddy.

Posted by: drindl | July 30, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

CC, it seems to me that the GOP should still be pretty worried about these polls. The Democrats have been hammered for the past three months on the stimulus, energy policy, healthcare, etc, and they still hold a 5-6% advantage in the generic polling. I think what this shows is more of a coming down to earth for the Democrats.

That being said the GOP has set themselves up for either a big win or a HUGE fall if the economy turns around or if the Healthcare reform package is well received when it come out this fall.

Posted by: AndyR3 | July 30, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

It would be interesting to see the margins of statistical error when these figures are applied to a local contest....

A lot will change between now and the 2010 election. And while some of the seats that shifted had to do with W's unpopularity, a number of seats shifting from R to D have to do with demographic changes

Posted by: RickJ | July 30, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

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