Novak: Polling Shows Dems Poised to Pick Up House Seats
by Jonathan Singer, Mon Apr 30, 2007 at 04:53:37 PM EDT
Before I even really get into this post, let me say that I trust Robert Novak about as far as I can throw him (and, as the secretary in Ferris Bueller's Day Off says -- and I'm paraphrasing here -- with my bad knee I'd better not throw anybody). That duly noted, in his weekly column for the Chicago Sun-Times this week, Novak has the following report on the bullishness of House Democrats:
Private House Democratic polls of the 50 most competitive congressional districts project a gain of 9 to 11 seats in the 2008 elections that would be an unprecedented further surge by the party after its 2006 gain of 30 seats to win control of the House.
All previous major surges of House seats have been followed by losses in the next election. The 54-seat Republican gain in 1994 that produced GOP House control was followed by an eight-seat loss in 1996. However, the current Republican political slump, fueled by President Bush's unpopularity, would reverse that pattern if the election were held today, according to the Democratic polls.
It's important to underscore that for all of the flak that Novak receives, he does have some good sources, both because he is a willing stenographer and he is well-known. However, Novak's sources are significantly better among Republicans than they are among Democrats. There's a reason Karl Rove spilled the beans about Valerie Plame's identity to Novak -- and it's not because he's an above-the-board, straight reporter. As such, there is real reason to take this report with a significant amount of incredulity.
Yet there is something in me that leads me to believe that there is at least a kernel of the truth in this report, too -- and I don't just think it's because I'd like it to be true. Whether it is the publicly available polling that shows the approval ratings of key Republican incumbents up for reelection in 2008 slipping or other publicly available polling that shows the Democrats holding an 18-point lead in the generic presidential ballot question, the early indicators are indeed pointing to the possibility that the Democrats will not only hold on to the House and the Senate in 2008 but in fact pick up seats. Of course the early indicators can be wrong -- and have often been wrong in the past. Nonetheless, even taken with a truckload of salt, these numbers cannot help but lead to an increased sense of desperation and despondence on the part of Republicans and more optimism on the part of Democrats.