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Republicans hold lead in generic ballot

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The latest weekly tracking poll from Gallup showing Republicans holding a 48 percent to 44 percent lead in the generic ballot test -- the third straight week that the GOP has stood tied or ahead on the question -- represents the sort of historic anomaly that has to concern Democratic strategists heading into the fall.

As Gallup's Lydia Saad notes, the only times in recent memory that Republicans carried a sustained edge in the generic ballot question -- "Would you vote for a Republican or Democratic candidate for Congress if the election was today?" or language similar to that -- were in 1994 and 2002. In each, Republicans either scored significant gains in the House and Senate (1994) or beat back historical midterm election trends (2002).

(Worth noting: Not all data conforms with Gallup's conclusions. A late March Washington Post/ABC national poll gave Democrats a 48 percent to 44 percent edge among registered voters in the generic ballot, a reversal from the 48 percent to 45 percent advantage Republicans enjoyed on the question in an early February survey. And, a CNN poll showed Democrats at 50 percent to 46 percent for Republicans. But, the closeness of the generic ballot was a marked contrast to the double digit edge Democrats held in advance of the 2006 and 2008 elections.)

We have written many, many times about what the generic ballot means and, as importantly, what it doesn't.

Explains Saad:

"The results -- when based on likely voters shortly before Election Day -- have proved, historically, to be a highly accurate predictor of the national two-party vote. This, in turn, bears a close relationship to the post-election party division of House seats."

Put simply: The generic ballot tell us broadly what direction -- and how strongly -- the national wind is blowing. It doesn't tell us whether Walt Minnick (Idaho) or Bobby Bright (Ala.) is going to win or lose. (Both Democrats, despite their strongly Republican districts, are the early favorites to buck national trends and win re-election this fall.)

Given historic trends in first term, midterm elections -- the President's party typically loses between 20-25 seats -- and what the Gallup generic ballot test is currently showing, it suggests that Republicans have every reason to feel good about where they stand heading into the vote this fall.

Politics is, of course, an unpredictable business (which is why we love covering it so much) and so things can -- and do change.

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By Chris Cillizza  |  April 13, 2010; 12:15 PM ET
Categories:  House  | Tags: Democratic, Gallup, Republican, United States midterm election  
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Actually, these polls tell us NOTHING seven months before the election. The economy is currently trending upwards. The Dow Jones average closed over 11,000 this week, reflecting an increase of more than 50% over its level when Obama took office almost 15 months ago. None of the health care reform programs has kicked in yet; when they begin to, in July, people will start to see those benefits and love them. The drawdown in Iraq is continuing and will accellerate over the summer, during which time the president will also get a new justice confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Four months from now, as we approach Labor Day, polls will start to reflect the potential of the election, and I suspect the Democrats will do far, far better than most pundits are predicting they will.

Here are my predictions: unemployment in October will be below 8% nationally; the Dow Jones will be at 11,500 or more; the first aspects of the health care reform bill will make families of 20-somethings and many seniors elated; most troops will be home from Iraq (though more will be in Afghanistan); a liberal Supreme Court justice will have been sworn in; and the Democrats will lose 20 to 22 seats in the House and four or five, at most, in the Senate.

Because, as the old saying has it, a week is a lifetime in politics. And I don't know any more than anyone else, but I do know that everything you all know today will be Bull***t three months from now.

Posted by: adreed | April 13, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

i predicted months (before brown) ago that R's would win 40-50 seats in house and 7-8 in senate i had upped it to 50-60 and 8-9 at the implementation of health care Deform aka putting every insurance salesman or other employee on unemployment ins. (maybe some of them can become one of the 16,000 new irs agents being hired to enforce hcD) it just keeps looking better for conservative, constitution loving americans, but still i'm scared. i think maybe obozo is inviting a terrorist attack in order to suspend/cancel/ forget about them we never had such things (orwellianspeak see 1984). if they try it my powder is dry and my aim is true

Posted by: shorething | April 13, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Sedition crosses the line when it involves actually planning and preparing for acts aimed at undermining or overthrowing the government."
So isn't this then sedition?
Posted by: drindl
This is why Pelosi, Reid and Obama must be indicted and tried asap.

Posted by: leapin | April 13, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Just remember, Gallup thinks Dewey beat Truman.

Posted by: ceflynline | April 13, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

And oh yeah, that same CNN poll shows Obama beating Romney by eight points and every other major potential candidate by at least 10 points.

Posted by: jbentley4 | April 13, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Some American people wouldn't know a good thing even if it came up a smack them in the face.

Hey, if the American people want a Republican President and Party in control again like the last eight years, so be it. America will be the most powerful nation in the world again just like the way the Republicans left if before President Obama took over.

Again if that's what they want, so be it. They call themselves American because they so love when America is looked down on, despised and left economically week. They are the true Americans.

So, if they want the Party of No and know new ideas or brains to fix the real problems of America and they want people like Sarah Palin running this country, so be it. Last year we almost hit rock bottom.

I am sure all the tea baggers and haters who wants to put Republicans in control again and dismiss the progress we have made within one and half years with a black president, really wants to make sure we get to bottom out once and for all and believe me, we certainly will. God will really need to bless America.

Posted by: minnie2 | April 13, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

According to the article: "A late March Washington Post/ABC national poll gave Democrats a 48 percent to 44 percent edge among registered voters in the generic ballot, a reversal from the 48 percent to 45 percent advantage Republicans enjoyed on the question in an early February survey."

So, I guess you WOULD learn it from the Fix.

Posted by: JakeD3 | April 13, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Of course, you'd never know it reading The Fix, but a CNN/Opinion Research poll just found that the Democrats hold a 50%-46% lead and Public Policy Polling survey just found that only 28% of voters approve of the direction of the Republican. But, as I said, you'll never know it from reading Chris Cilliza.

Posted by: jbentley4 | April 13, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse


“Obama Stimulus is working as planned”

That’s a good one as if economists know exactly how to stimulate a 14 trillion dollar economy in free fall. If Obama knew so much, why did he make such a ridiculous announcement that this bill was to keep unemployment at around 8%. The reality was they underestimated the severity of the recession and made their predictions on past trends of other recessions, but this was not your garden variety recession. The stimulus had some good measures, but it was also filled with pork projects. Many R were talking of a stimulus bill in the neighborhood of 200 billion rather than 800 billion allocated. Much of the bill was pent up D spending, but as they say elections do have consequences or as WH likes to phrase it “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

Don’t be so gullible to say the stimulus is working as planned you make yourself look foolish. There are tons of government spending that have unattended consequences (i.e., different groups helps rather than the targeted group)

Posted by: sliowa1 | April 13, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

So far, Scott Brown has voted with Democrats on every issue.

Posted by: drindl | April 13, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

The absolute key thing to keep in mind when discussing the seemingly imminent Republican sweep of that we're still SEVEN MONTHS out from the election...

Posted by: parkerfl1 | April 13, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

This poll only shows what's been going on in the USA, after the American people saw some of the results of Comrade Obama's Communist agenda starting to come on line. It'll get worse for them.
The best indicator that the Democrap Socialist's and Comrade Barack Obama will get their clocks cleaned big time come November's midterms and the 2012 presidential election, was when Scott Brown won in the most far-left, most liberal state in the USA, Mass. This seat wasn't just any old seat where an upset sometimes might happen once in a blue moon, it was a long-time Ted Kennedy held seat that everybody in the country thought was a lock for the Democrap Socialists, with not a chance in he** that it would go to the Republicans. If a seat like that can go to the R's there, there's a great chance that the November midterms will be a massacre for the D's when the American people take back our country from the new American Communist Party, AKA the Democrap Socialist Party.

Posted by: armpeg | April 13, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Thandostreet says that the Obama stimulus is a failure. Um, if I take a pain reliever and my headache isn't gone in two minutes, then that pain reliever is a failure, right? If I have low blood sugar, eat a banana, and my blood sugar has not rebounded in 15 seconds, then the banana was of no help, right?

These things take time, and employment is a TRAILING indicator. So let's give it a minute. All the data shows that unlike giving a bunch of money to banks so they can give executives big bonuses, the Obama Stimulus is working as planned.

Tired of disingenuous, knee-jerk reactions that are not based on reality? Go to We don't do that, of course.

Posted by: nikFlorida | April 13, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Thanks CC, I didnt' catch that earlier this morning.

Posted by: AndyR3 | April 13, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

"The Associated Press reports that Oklahoma tea party leaders, "frustrated by recent political setbacks," are working with right-wing Republicans in the Oklahoma legislature to create a new "volunteer militia to help defend against what they believe are improper federal infringements on state sovereignty." State Sen. Randy Brogdon (R-OK) and State Rep. Charles Key (R-OK) have met with tea party leaders, like J.W. Berry of the Tulsa-based OKforTea group, to plan legislation for a state-authorized militia.

Brogdon, who is running for Governor and sponsored the right-wing anti-health reform "state sovereignty" resolution in his state, explained that he believes his anti-federal government militia has constitutional backing:

The founding fathers "were not referring to a turkey shoot or a quail hunt. They really weren't even talking about us having the ability to protect ourselves against each other," Brogdon said. "The Second Amendment deals directly with the right of an individual to keep and bear arms to protect themselves from an overreaching federal government."

But critics say the tea party militia idea could "throw fuel in the fire of radicals." Even some Republicans are opposed to Brogdon's initiative. "If the intent is to create a militia for disaster relief, we have the National Guard," said Sen. Steve Russell, (R-OK), a retired Army lieutenant colonel. "Anything beyond that purpose should be viewed with great concern and caution." Indeed, the news of the state-sponsored militia movement arrives shortly before the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, on April 19.

Berry, the tea party leader who first solicited support for the militia, has posted rants against President Obama: the "Muslim President" - a "reincarnation of Pol Pot" who is trying imprison Americans for resisting health reform. One ominous posting from Berry says that his militia should "launch a thousand guerrilla attacks on the plans that these people have to ruin us and our country."

There's a quite specific definition of what illegal sedition is. Speech calling for the undermining or overthrow of the government, while dangerous, is not illegal. Sedition crosses the line when it involves actually planning and preparing for acts aimed at undermining or overthrowing the government."

So isn't this then sedition?

Posted by: drindl | April 13, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

A commenter above says s/he would like to see historical data that indicates the accuracy of March polls regarding mid-term elections. That's exactly my point. If the commenter really wants to see that data, why doesn't s/he go look it up? It's readily available.

If you are really an independent political thinker and are tired of pundits and spin with preconceived agendas, then go to for a good place to start.

Posted by: nikFlorida | April 13, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

The Dow is now above 11,000 again!


Posted by: Bondosan | April 13, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I do hope the Dems do some good ads against the Rs who voted against unemployment benefits in a recession, when countless thousands are out of work.

Let's just call it the Party of Mean, or the Ways to be Mean Committee:

'Last week, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), who is running for the Senate, visited with health care officials in Springfield, MO to hear their take on health care reform. On Friday, KSPR, an ABC affiliate in Missouri, aired footage from the meeting, capturing Blunt saying that unlike children, adults shouldn’t be protected from being discriminated against for insurance because of pre-existing conditions:

BLUNT: Access for kids who have pre-existing conditions, who would be against that? But access for adults, who have done nothing to take care of themselves, who actually will have as I’ve just described every incentive not to get insurance until the day that you know that you’re going to have medical expenses, that’s, that’s a very different kind of story."

If you got cancer, or were born with a disability, that's your own fault, you know.

Posted by: drindl | April 13, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

hrm... what do you suppose this poll means? Gallup, as we all know, is somewhat biased in their questioning and in their analysis to favor conservative causes. Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to blindly vote for their party without considering the individual candidate. Opposition parties historically and ubiquitously have midterm congressional gains. 48 to 44 in a typical Gallup poll is barely (if at all) outside the margin of sampling error. Obama was shown to be trailing McCain three months before the Presidential election (McCain hadn't even officially been nominated by the Republican party six months out), so that poll doesn't provide much gleeful reaction at all.

The article notes that for three weeks in a row Republicans led that question... does that mean that prior to three weeks ago they trailed, which would be abysmal? The article doesn't say, of course, because the truth would not support the article's theme or agenda.

If you are tired of disingenuous spin and would like to do your own thinking based on unbiased factual data, go to and follow the links.

Posted by: nikFlorida | April 13, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

37th, if you ever post anything without a link to verify, you're lying. That's the consensus here. May as well start doing that. I told you to post a link about Joe Stack's Dem registration. You didn't. So assuming you're lying 100% of the time is a useful heuristic. Burden of proof is on you.

Posted by: DDAWD | April 13, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Who's surprised? Liberals reveal their intentions. Voters say NO.

Perfectly predictable.

Posted by: Moonbat | April 13, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Also, you can't deny "I didn't have a job before. Now I do."

Posted by: DDAWD | April 13, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

shrink -- scott brown wants to keep his job so he is backing away from baggers as fast as possible, and becoming another Olympia Snowe...

"In a 60-34 vote, the Senate yesterday advanced critical legislation extending unemployment benefits. GOP Sens. Scott Brown (MA), Susan Collins (ME), Olympia Snowe (ME), and George Voinovich (OH) joined all Democrats present in voting for the bill.

Posted by: drindl | April 13, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Shrink, I don't believe any independent is going to buy the forward looking market nonsense. People who are specifically looking for a reason to credit Republicans might do so, but most people who are finding jobs will credit the party that passed the stimulus, that passed the jobs bills and will blame the ones who filibustered.

Posted by: DDAWD | April 13, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse


This is what you are supporting: if Obama's economic plan keeps going the way it is, 20% of the US GDP will be going towards INTEREST on the national debt.

Do you want that?



Posted by: 37thand0street | April 13, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

"If this trend continues, that will be bad news for Republicans."

How peculiar, but plain to see: since all good news about the economy is bad news for Republicans, either (A) no good news about the economy is permitted or, (B) if it is undeniable, any good news about the economy is anticipating a return from the wilderness. The surety of Republicans winning control of all three houses means people are confident about America again.

It is a simple narrative and Democrats better learn how to defeat it.

Still Scott Brown dissing Sarah Palin and the TEA people (per yesterday's Herald) is an encouraging sign.

Posted by: shrink2 | April 13, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

With regards to yesterdays talk about the Republican straw-poll - and today's polls here. The issues appear to be making the case for Ron Paul - specifically the debate about health care has focused the nation on the need for smaller government - and really evaluating if we need each and every government program.

In a sense, the logical extension of the health care debate makes a case for Ron Paul.

And Ron Paul doesn't have to make a speech or spend a dollar to accomplish that extremely important highlighting of his major issue.

I don't get the same feeling about Romney - one might think that the economic situation would be beneficial for Romney - a businessman - however his business was way too close to Wall Street -

I'm just putting out an analysis here - not really expressing support for any one candidate - but the energy of the youth appeal in Ron Paul's campaign is going to give him a really strong base to work off.

I still think that the strongest candidate is Scott Brown - however Romney would have to step aside and support Brown - I don't know if that is even in the cards - but Romney has a decision to make: step aside and potentially get an extremely influential spot in the next administration or risk that he won't win at all.


The Republican nomination is certainly worth having.


Posted by: 37thand0street | April 13, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

"(Worth noting: Not all data conforms with Gallup's conclusions. A late March Washington Post/ABC national poll gave Democrats a 48 percent to 44 percent edge among registered voters in the generic ballot"

So, in other words, the headline doesn't really mean anything at all.

Posted by: drindl | April 13, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse


The economy actually CONTRACTED LAST MONTH -

this is the economic reality: one has to substract out the census workers which are temporary.

The economy needs to ADD 170,000 jobs per month just to keep up with population growith - the only economic measure that means anything is one that INCLUDES population growith.

Why is this important - you yourself are comparing last March with last year - but there was NO OBAMA STIMULUS LAST YEAR.

This is why Obama's stimulus is such a FAILURE - These employment numbers are WITH the $800 Billion stimulus money in the economy - so clearly Obama has been a mess in terms of economics.

OK - you can go on and insist that your lies are the truth now.


Posted by: 37thand0street | April 13, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse


I linked to a story on FL-19 special election in the "Morning Fix" post this am.

National operatives on both sides acknowledge that Ted Deutch, a Democratic state Senator, is going to cruise to a win in the comfortably Democratic seat.

Make sense?


Posted by: Chris_Cillizza | April 13, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

These numbers 48 - 44 are the same numbers that came out in the survey which asked Americans if their views were closer to the Tea Party or closer to Obama - those numbers were 48 for the Tea Party and 44 for Obama.

Obama has fallen into the low 40s - and his actions over the past few months have solidified him staying there rather than climbing out.

For Obama to climb out, he would have to be appealing independents in that range - which Obama is clearly NOT doing - instead Obama is further offending them.


Posted by: 37thand0street | April 13, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Dognabbit, the economy added more jobs in March than it has in any month in the past two years. If this trend continues, that will be bad news for Republicans.

Posted by: DDAWD | April 13, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I guess the democrats will be SCREAMING about why a win in a SAFE DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT is not reported as a massive win for Obama.

I guess they could lie and say it means that the public REALLY WANTS OBAMA TO TURN FARTHER TO THE LEFT.

Reality is reality.


Posted by: 37thand0street | April 13, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Hey Chris, how did "Politics and Pints" go last night?

Posted by: hayden1 | April 13, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Here's wh, there's nothing on FLA 19th -- A Democrat is expected to win:

'Voters in Florida's 19th Congressional District will elect a successor Tuesday for former Democratic Rep. Robert Wexler, who resigned earlier this year to head a think tank focused on the Middle East. Democratic state Sen. Ted Deutch is the strong favorite to win the Palm Beach-area seat over Republican Ed Lynch and unaffiliated candidate Jim McCormick.

Turnout for the special election has been running ahead of the participation rate for the February primary: 7,833 early ballots and 13,764 absentee ballots have been cast, according to the Palm Beach Post, compared with just 2,935 early votes and 7,964 absentee ballots in the nominating election.'

Posted by: drindl | April 13, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

CC, where is the write up on the Florida 19th election today???

Posted by: AndyR3 | April 13, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Obviously these numbers are not a good sign for the Democrats, but if you look at the numbers right before 06 you will see that the Democrats were about +10 or so on the same poll. I think that indicates the GOP still needs to gain some more buffer if they want to take back one of the houses of congress next November. Especially given the money advantage that the Democrats have at this point, and the fact the GOP is defending so many more seats in the Senate.

Posted by: AndyR3 | April 13, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see an analysis of all of the late-March generic polls going back, say, 20-30 years to see how accurate they were in predicting November outcomes.

For those polls that did not hold by the time November rolled around, what was it that changed during those 7 months?

What events could tip the numbers back toward the Democrats in 2010?

In other words, we like to say that the only polls that count are the ones taken on Election Day, but what are the odds that these March numbers won't continue to be good news for the GOP?

Posted by: dognabbit | April 13, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Fine with me, now Democrats will understand they have to run campaigns.

Posted by: shrink2 | April 13, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

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