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More Parsing the Polls: Bad News for Congressional Republicans?

Earlier today The Fix examined four recently released national polls and what they revealed about President Bush's public standing.  In short, Bush's numbers crept upward over the past month. But the ratings for Congress remained largely unchanged -- a worrisome sign for Republicans hoping to hold onto both chambers next fall.

Voters are decidedly unhappy with Congress. In the Diageo/Hotline poll, just 26 percent approved of the job Congress is doing and a measly two percent "strongly" approved.  A whopping 64 percent disapproved. 

The Washington Post-ABC News poll showed Congress faring slightly better with 43 percent approving of its work compared to 53 percent disapproving -- a six percent net gain from the Post's November survey. (37 percent approve/59 percent disapprove).

In the so-called generic ballot question, which asks voters to choose between an unnamed Democratic candidate and an unnamed Republican candidate, Democrats continued to carry a significant edge.

The Post-ABC poll showed Democrats with a nine-point edge on the generic ballot -- but that's down from a whopping 53-35 advantage in November.  The Diageo/Hotline survey put Democrats' generic ballot edge at ten points. 

Two caveats are necessary when considering the Democratic lead in the generic ballot. First, Democrats had historically high generic ballot leads in the summer of 2004 but were unable to capitalize and make major gains in the House last year.

Second, the generic ballot question is seen as an uneven predictor of which party will make electoral gains because of a built-in advantage for Democrats.  Because Democrats still have more congressional districts heavily weighted for their party (i.e. districts where Democratic voters far outnumber GOP voters), those seats tend to skew the overall national results and make it difficult to decipher what the mood is among the 25-30 truly swing districts nationwide that will actually be in play next year. (I wrote about the generic ballot, its problems and its predictive abilities for Roll Call. Click here to read a free version of that story.)

Not all the news in recent polls was bad for Republicans. In the Post-ABC poll, 65 percent said they approved of the way their own member of Congress was handling his or her job, a statistic sure to be cited by House Republicans when countering Democrats' insistence that 2006 will be a watershed election.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 21, 2005; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  Parsing the Polls  
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Next: Warner to New Hampshire (Again)

Comments

How about Rep. Tom Osbourne (R-NE), former winning state college football coach?

Posted by: mad | January 3, 2006 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Celebrity politicians?

I can't recall the year, but in the 50's or 60's a Yankee rich man, Winthrop Rockefeller,came down to Arkansas and parlayed his legendary family name into a successful bid for governor.

But I guess any elected Kennedy, Bush, or Roosevelt is using family fame as a name-recognition-and-admiration gimmick.

Hillary Clinton was famous before she ran, just like Ms. Bono, whom you included.

Lurleen, the wife of George Wallace of Alabama succeeded him as governor, 1967-8.

MB

Posted by: Michael Bass, M.D. | January 3, 2006 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Viva: You should read what Richard Clarke has to say. Clinton fought terrorism pretty aggressively; it was Bush's cronies who didn't want to hear about it when warned during the transition. They were too busy looking for an excuse to invade Iraq.

Chasing al Qaeda around the world?? Is that why the man who actually attacked us, Osama bin Laden, is still on the loose? We haven't had to worry about another 9/11--is that why they keep raising the terror threat levels and issuing warnings about monuments, memorials, bridges, mass transit systems, sports stadiums and most other large public gatherings? Is that why the Administration told us all to buy duct tape and plastic sheeting? Is that why the bipartisan 9/11 Commission says we remain in grave danger of another attack as bad as or worse than the one we already experienced?

The majority of Americans have had oral sex by age 16, the Post has reported as much. Let's not delude ourselves. Also, since the early 1990s, Texas has been the 2nd most populous state. NY is 3rd.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 22, 2005 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Hoorah for you, Sharyn! I agree 200% with your desire to see Bush, et.al., brought up for Impeachment and sought for treason. This president has lied too many times to all of us, and now that the truth is coming out, watch the Republicans jump ship just to keep their jobs! There are very few honorable people working for us now. To call the Democrats all those nasty names derived primarily from folks on the radio is the same mentality that's been leading us down the spiraling path of destruction--namely, the Republican leadership at all levels.
In regards to the budget passed last night in the Senate, if you think the rich are going to help anyone other than themselves, then you need to read more and think more. Giving them more money is just making our debt larger, but too many people believe they will create jobs for us. Yes, if we live in some poor country! Look where all our jobs are going? Look where are rich are investing their monies! How much more are we going to put up with? Do we really want to be the poorest nation in the world because we will soon have more poor people per capita than most other developed nations. More people starving, unable to afford healthcare, unable to afford the rent or mortgage, unable to heat their houses, unable to put food on the table for their children--but we'll have plenty of rich people to show off their gold, plus a very few of us will be offered jobs to service our rich! How lucky can we get? Wake up, AMERICANS!!!

Posted by: IBCare | December 22, 2005 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the conspiracy to commit voter fraud. Has anyone heard about Black Box Voting who was selected by several states to test Diebold machines and the obstructions that are being thrown in their way by states such as California. The Diebold machines votes can be changed before they are counted automatically through the transition process. Some States have thrown their Diebold machines in the brink and are starting over. Some voting commissions were found to have thrown paper ballots into the trash by Black Box Voting investigators but have never been allowed to be brought to task over this. Democracy! What democracy? How can you tell a Republican is lying? His/her lips are moving. Bush has lied over and over about the requesting warrants, about WMD, Katrina you name it. Why would anyone believe him or his gang ever. The Republicans are now starting to back off and distance theirselves from Bush but they are just has complicit in this "vast right wing conspiracy" as Bush is. He didn't start it, he was just handy and willing to cheat back in 2000. He should be impeached immediately and he should be brought up on charges of Treason in my opinion.

Posted by: Sharyn | December 22, 2005 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Good for you Angry Texan. Finally someone telling it like everyone else see's it! vivabush04OH you are so ignorant and blind you don't even deserve an acknowledgement. You all (bush, cheney, rumsfeld, karl rove) should take your sheets out of the closet and shake them out to wear for the next disaster that hits during this administration.

Posted by: Sam | December 22, 2005 10:28 AM | Report abuse

This President has the feeling that he is above ALL laws, and uses 9/11 for any and all excuse to do as he pleases.
The Re-Thug-Lians cannot EVER admit they were wrong about anything! Idiots like Hannity, always, and I repeat ALWAYS come up with: Well look what Clinton did? "Clinton had an affair and Lied".
Clintons affair had absolutely nothing to do with running this country into the ground as Bush is doing to it. Clintons affair had absolutely nothing to do with our BUDGET process, which by the way was the money left so GEORGE could start his spending ways to make the rich richer.
If another Re-Thug-Lian like Bush enters office, this Country is headed straight to Bankruptcy. We can only borrow so much before the lenders start demanding it be returned. Maybe then, the RICH will have to come up with all the money BUSH has been giving them to payback this country.

Posted by: Stevenriv | December 22, 2005 2:56 AM | Report abuse

I think it is good to remember that Monica was hardly helpless. She was an adult, no spy, not pursued, but was the pursuer and in fact assented to a very inappropriate act with our President, yet in private. It was a prosecution of Whitewater that was heading nowhere of consequence that led to dragging a wrong, but otherwise private, affair into the living rooms of families such that children were forced by Kenneth Starr to learn about oral sex years before their parents would have deemed appropriate. Family values?

Also, "kicked ass in Afganistan and Iraq?" I think the initial military strategy for bringing down the Taliban and al Queda in Afganistan was brilliant. Until, that is, the end when bin laden escaped. Whether attention was prematurely diverted to Iraq (which we now know could easily have waited until we'd finished what we started in defending our country will be known in time. And I, for one, would have much preferred that bin laden been pulled from a spider hole than Saddam. He was a regional bully, like a mob thug. He'd attacked neighbors like Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Israel, but never us. bin Laden did.

Saddam feared us as much as he was angry at us afterall, he experienced first hand being kicked out of Kuwait. Did you know he was a reader? His favorite author? Ernest Hemingway...an American.

Finally, "...protecting America". Go tell that to the poor along the gulf coast. Al Queda is a very terrifying threat to be sure, but we could all see the monster hurricane bearing down on New Orleans two days before it hit. "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" just demands a retraction when instead of heading east to New Orleans the day after Katrina hit, Bush headed west to New Mexico for a Republican fundraiser.

That famous picture of him looking from high above in Air Force One was take two days after Katrina hit. I suspect it is air conditioned. Meanwhile, people had been clinging to rooftops in 95 degree temperatures for two days below. Yet flying west to New Mexico for a fund raiser was a higher priority?

You don't even have to like Clinton to know exactly where he would have been the day after the hurricane hit. Right on the ground with the people at the Superdome is my guess. And while he may or may not have been able to get any more water, food or shelter than was done in this sorry mess, there is one thing the people of New Orleans would have seen however...THEIR President. Just a little hard to see Bush through a porthole of a jet two days later while clinging to a very hot roof.

Clearly the state and city made mistakes, but both Louisiana and New Orleans are in the middle size range of both states and cities in the U.S. After 9/11, the largest city in the U.S in the second largest state had federal presence, responders and assistance. Oh, and the President was there, too.

How Louisiana and New Orleans were supposed to handle what was able to be seen to be bearing down on them on their own is something you'd have to ask Brownie or Bush I suppose. I, for one, don't see it.

Posted by: bornintheUSA | December 21, 2005 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Hey Subway, had Clinton and Gore done their jobs throughout the 90's like do something about the first WTC attack, the attack on Khobar Towers, the attack on the US embassies in Africa, the attack on the USS Cole, had they made a stand in Somalia rather than cut and run like the party we know the Democrats to be then and now, we wouldn't have had 9/11. Clinton was more concerned about molesting helpless women like Paula and Monica and then getting out of a lie about all of it.

The fact is, because America under the Bush administration has kicked ass in Afgahnistan and Iraq, not to mention chasing Al Queda's ass out of the US and all over the world, America hasn't had to worry about another 9/11.

Get a clue, when it comes to matters of protecting America, in 2002 and 2004 Americans voted to have Republicans lead the way. I don't see why they would do anything differently in 2006.

Posted by: vivabush04OH | December 21, 2005 9:31 PM | Report abuse

I was at the Capitol on 9/11 when there WAS a plane heading for it, and trust me, we were wishing deeply that Bill Clinton or Al Gore--a real president--were in charge rather than a silver spoon flunkie who was busy reading "My Pet Goat".

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 21, 2005 6:11 PM | Report abuse

deuces is the reason this independent voter has turned to the republicans more often the last 10 yrs. the thought of a demo in office on 9/11 should be enough to keep me sober for a life time.

Posted by: broncobilly | December 21, 2005 4:29 PM | Report abuse

viva bush sounds like one of those mindless lemmings that blindly follows the leader. She's right in the fact that the Republicans have the House , Senate and the White House. The diebold machines that leave no paper trail and is manufactured and distributed by ardent Bush fans should be checked by an independent commission. That away no Repugnant Republican can say the results of that investigation is skewed and the Democrats stay away from the investigation. The Republicans are the pious, pontificating, holier than thou, shove my religion down your throats,greedy, kiss ass, bible thumping Jesus Freaks that fall back on their version of their bible to make their point kind of despots. viva bush obviously says how far when the Republicans say bend over!

Posted by: Deuces | December 21, 2005 4:03 PM | Report abuse

vivabush obviously drank too much republicant koolaid. He is blind to the ineptitude of bush and the republicants. The stategery of the right wing is to change the rules and by the voting machines if you cant win. America is in bad shape because of these people and bush is not protecting us. He is a coward that cant leave his cage and have a real dialogue about whats going on in this country. Bush is an old washed up cheerleader and dry drunk with far too much power.

Posted by: Angry Texan | December 21, 2005 3:46 PM | Report abuse

"Wow, what a big gulp of left-wing Kool Aid you been sipping from John!"

Dude -- Kool-Aid?

Your freaking name is "Vivabush04OH". Different flavors, same crap.

Posted by: Bill | December 21, 2005 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Wow, what a big gulp of left-wing Kool Aid you been sipping from John!

Let me explain a few things about elections and voting machines. First of all, I don't know of a single jursidiction where any one party holds the so-called keys to election machinery. In Ohio, all county Boards of Election are equally run by both Republicans as well as Democrats, right from the top and down to the precinct poll level. I can't recall the last time either party tried any thing "funny" in an election.

As for polls dicrepancy, it is called TURNOUT. Very simply, Republicans tend to turn out in higher numbers than Democrats. For many Dems, the spirit may be willing but when it comes time to actually registering and then voting well...you're asking quite a lot.

Impeachment? What a laugh. Get a clue, you have to control the House in order to even think about it and the last I saw, The GOP still had a sizeable majority.

You are symptomatic of what is wrong with the Dems--you spend more time on what-ifs and pie-in-the sky strategies and outright fantasies and conspiracies instead of down-to-earth strategies and issues, not to mention you can't raise nearly enough money to take on enough GOPs to take back the House.

If some day the babble is replaced with a real governing strategy beginning with a plan to protect America, then I might have a lot to worry about. In the meantime, continue what you all are doing now.

Posted by: vivabush04OH | December 21, 2005 2:55 PM | Report abuse

"Two caveats are necessary when considering the Democratic lead in the generic ballot. First, Democrats had historically high generic ballot leads in the summer of 2004 but were unable to capitalize and make major gains in the House last year."

Why is it that instead of questioning these discrepancies between poll numbers and election results, we all seem to just simply accept them as an inexplicable anomoly?

Sounds like a case of election fraud is hiding somewhere in this evidence.

How is it that poll numbers can be "historicaly high" for Democrats, yet when the election results come in they lose by fractional percentages?

Talk about "The Fix!"

If the Democrats don't dig into the Diebold deceptions, they may as well just hand it all over to the Republicans.

Doesn't it occur to anyone that the reason Diebold got out of North Carolina in such a big hurry when they were required to make their software available to state auditors, was because they have something very sinister to hide?

This much-too-casual reference to typically reliable polls being so terribly wrong is clear evidence of voter fraud.

Which is why the Democrats might well be the majority party in our country and in the voting booths, but not in the final tally.

Especially when only Republican operatives have the digital keys that manage those results.

If the Republicans are really the champions of Freedom they tout themselves to be, then they should demand integrity in the voting process. Otherwise, they are just giving lip service to an imaginary democracy.

John Conyers has intitated proceedings to form some sort of an Impeachment movement in the House. Maybe that will help assure voting integrity in the next election. But more likely, it will make the violators that much more desperate.

A Democratic majority in the house would spell disaster for the uber-failing Bush administration, they can't even keep their own Republican ducks all in a row any more. Cheney's got to cut his junkets short just to make up for those non-compliant Republican lawmakers.

Maybe with a Democratic majority in Congress, we would actually get to the bottom of why our reliable polls just don't seem so reliable any more.

JEP

Posted by: John Patterson | December 21, 2005 2:19 PM | Report abuse

If the Democrats do what I feel they should do, adopt a national strategy of reminding voters that there will be no oversight of Bush with a GOP-controlled Congress, than the Republicans will have far more battles on their hands than they realize...incumbency notwithstanding.

However, nobody ever accused the Dems of having a good strategy on the National level, so maybe it is just wishful thinking.

Posted by: scootmandubious | December 21, 2005 1:45 PM | Report abuse

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