As President Obama's State of the Union address approaches, comparisons to 1994 abound; Republicans are licking their chops at the chance to retake seats in Congress; the president's once-massive popularity has fallen off. So what kind of disadvantage do Democrats face? According to a new NPR poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, they trail Republicans 44 percent to 39 percent in generic balloting for 2010 House races, with five percent undecided.
Five points is not an egregious deficit, but, if it were evenly distributed across the country (which it will not be), it would put Republicans in the majority. To give an idea of how Democrats' electoral advantage has fallen off, a Washington Post/ABC poll in June 2008 gave Democrats a 53 percent to 38 percent generic-House-ballot edge.
To compare this number to the last time partisan political fortunes reversed--when the Democrats took over the House and Senate in the wave election of 2006--generic-ballot polls in the week before the '06 midterms showed Democrats leading Republicans by anywhere from four to 20 percentage points.