GOP's Nonexistent Generic Ballot Lead

When Gallup released polling last week showing the Republicans jumping to their largest ever lead in the organization's generic congressional ballot polling -- a 49 percent to 43 percent advantage -- the talking heads were jumping all over each other in an effort to proclaim the nearing end for the Democratic majorities in Congress. Except, as it turns out, that polling was a mere blip, with the latest data showing a return to virtually the exact same numbers that had been holding strong in previous polling: a virtual tie between the two parties, at 46 percent apiece.

Gallup isn't the only pollster to find the race for Congress in 2010 continuing to sit where it has for a long time. Today marks the release of the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, which shows the Democrats edging out the Republicans by a 47 percent to 44 percent margin -- more or less the same spread that has been seen since March.

But I'm sure this is all great news for the GOP...

Dems Make Historic Gains in Gallup!

Last week, all the media was atwitter over the news that Gallup had Republicans with a six point edge in the generic ballot

:

Republicans Jump Out To Historic Lead In Gallup Generic Ballot Gallup's generic polling shows the number of voters saying that they would vote for Republicans rising three points from last week, while the number saying they will vote for Democrats dropped four points. The 49%-43% lead for the Republicans is the largest that the pollster has ever recorded for the party.

Wow! Historic!! Never mind that it was a holiday weekend... Never mind that the oil spill approvals were acute for that week (and recovering). It was historic!! Well, by that logic, apparently, Dems have made some history of their own! (more over the jump)

There's more...

"A Scenario Where Democrats Don't Lose the House"

Just a few weeks ago, Charlie Cook said that it's "very hard to come up with a scenario where Democrats don't lose the House." The quote may seem familiar; I have referenced it a couple times in recent days.

If Cook is still looking for such a scenario, the respected pollster Ipsos, surveying the country for McClatchy newspapers, has provided it:

Looking ahead to November's elections, 50 percent said they'd vote for Democratic candidates if the election were today, while 40 percent said they'd vote for Republicans.

The Democrats' 10-point generic ballot lead in the Ipsos-McClatchy poll represents a net improvement of 3 percentage points since early November, a move within the survey's margin of error.

It is worth noting that these numbers do not look like the latest trend estimate from Pollster.com, which actually gives the GOP a narrow 43.0 percent to 42.4 percent lead in a nationwide race for Congress. However, that narrow Republican advantage is the result of the plethora of data from a single pollster: Rasmussen Reports. When these surveys are excluded, the numbers shift more than 6 points towards the Democrats, with a Democratic edge of 47.1 percent to 41.5 percent.

So there definitely is a universe in which it is "very hard to come up with a scenario where Democrats don't lose the House": that of Rasmussen polling. And that may be the reality on the ground come November. But in the reality represented by the composite of all other polling, including this latest Ipsos survey, the Democrats' goose is not nearly cooked.

Gallup: Dems Jump Back in 2010 Lead

This doesn't yet seem to be garnering the type of round-the-clock coverage received last month when Gallup showed Republicans narrowly leading on the 2010 generic congressional ballot, and I'm not holding my breath for it either, but today Gallup released new numbers showing the Democrats retaking their lead ahead of the 2010 midterms as Independents begin swinging away from the GOP.

Democrats have regained the slim edge they enjoyed earlier this year over Republicans in the latest update of Gallup's generic congressional ballot for the 2010 House elections, and now have a slight 48% to 45% lead among registered voters. After having been behind in July and October, Republicans had moved ahead by four points in a Nov. 5-8 poll conducted just after the off-year elections.

The major cause of the movement between November and the current poll is the changing preferences of independents. In the latest poll, conducted Dec. 11-13, independent registered voters tilt only slightly toward the Republican candidate, by 44% to 40%. In the November poll, independents' preference for the Republican candidate was 52% to 30%. Both parties maintain the allegiance of their bases, with 93% of Democratic registered voters preferring the Democratic candidate and an identical 93% of Republican voters preferring the Republican.

I have a request in for the regional breakdown of these numbers so we can get an even better sense of where movement is occurring around the country. But for now it appears that with Independent voters cutting their preference for the GOP by a net 18 points over just the last month -- a month rife with Republican obstructionism on key issues ranging from healthcare reform to Wall Street regulation -- the Democrats' hopes in 2010 are looking rosier.

There's more...

More Regional 2010 Numbers

Pew (.pdf) has now released its own numbers on the generic ballot question, which shows the Democrats leading overall by a 47 percent to 42 percent margin -- up from a 45 percent to 44 percent margin back in August. Pew has also been kind enough to release a regional breakdown (.pdf) of their top numbers as well:

If the elections for U.S. Congress were being held TODAY, would you vote for the Republican Party's candidate or the Democratic Party's candidate for Congress in your district?/As of TODAY, do you LEAN more to the Republican or the Democrat?

AllNorth-
east
Mid-
west
SouthWest
Democrats4752464350
Republicans4238444544

Adding Pew's numbers to the aggregation put up on MyDD earlier, the average regional level of support on the 2010 ballot question is now as follows:

  • Northeast: Democrats 53.75 percent/Republicans 29.72 percent
  • Midwest: Democrats 41.44 percent/Republicans 41.12 percent
  • South: Democrats 39.38 percent/Republicans 45.58 percent
  • West: Democrats 44.32 percent/Republicans 39.4 percent

Pew's data -- which is actually fairly solid, with regional margins of error ranging from about plus or minus 5.6 percentage points to about plus or minus 4.0 percentage points -- is a bit more favorable for the Democrats than the Gallup poll also reported today. As such, the overall numbers now look a bit better than they did before their addition into the average.

I'll leave it to the folks at Pollster.com to do a more sophisticated aggregation of these regional numbers if they're interested, accounting for house effects, subsample sizes, timing and the like. But for now, we do have a decent picture of where the 2010 race currently stands, and what this picture shows us -- and I think Jerome is right here -- is that the closes battleground at present is in the Midwest, which could be key to determining the make up of the 112th Congress.

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