Lessons of New Poll Showing Extreme GOP Lead

Gallup delivers some bad news for Democrats

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A new Gallup poll shows what they call an "unprecedented" Republican lead in what's called the "generic ballot" survey. Pollsters ask respondents whether they would support a "generic Democrat" or "generic Republican" in the 2010 election for U.S. Congress. Gallup's newly released poll shows 51 percent supporting the generic Republican and only 41 percent for the generic Democrat. Gallup announces, "The 10-percentage-point lead is the GOP's largest so far this year and is its largest in Gallup's history of tracking the midterm generic ballot for Congress. ... The widest generic ballot lead in Gallup's history was 32 points in the Democrats' favor, measured in July 1974, just prior to Republican President Richard Nixon's resignation over the Watergate scandal." What does this new poll mean for the political parties and upcoming elections?

  • It's Too Late for Dems to Save November  Libertarian blogger Doug Mataconis writes, "The biggest problem for the Democrats is that there seem to be very few things that can happen between now and Election Day that can reverse the Republican momentum. The latest round of economic reports seem to establish fairly clearly that the economy is likely to remain flat or depressed during that time period and ... it is primarily the economy that is driving voter anger at this point in time. Outside of some massive scandal that hurts Republicans or an international crisis that causes the public to rally around the President, both of which are unlikely, the pattern we’re in now is likely to be the one we’re in on Election Day. That’s bad news if you’re a Democrat."
  • Districting Makes This Worse  Liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias adds, "It’s also worth keeping in mind that because of the way current districts are drawn, if the national vote splits 50-50 that will produce a Republican majority."
  • Summer-Long Decline for Dems  The New York Times' Nate Silver writes, "No non-Internet survey has shown the Democrats with a lead larger than 1 point on the generic ballot for over a month now, whereas their worst results of late seem to put them in the range of 10-11 points behind. This is not the situation the Democrats’ faced earlier this summer, when the generic ballot was closer to even. Back then, a 5-point Republican lead on the generic ballot would have been pretty big news; now, it seems to be the new normal. I don’t say this cavalierly: FiveThirtyEight tracks the generic ballot pretty obsessively, as it’s used in several ways in our forecasting models, and the Democrats’ numbers have almost certainly undergone some further deterioration over the past few weeks."
  • How Dems Will Fight Back  They'd hoped to be able to tout economic recovery, but with that failing, the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza predicts: "The next few weeks will be critical to Democrats' hopes of holding onto the House. Most targeted Democratic incumbents as well as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have fundraising edges over their GOP rivals. That means that Democrats will hit the television airwaves first with ads that, almost certainly, will seek to hammer their foes over a variety of issues ranging from Social Security to job creation. If those ads move numbers against Republicans across the country, Democrats may be able to mitigate -- if not totally alleviate -- their losses. If the ads don't change voters' perception in a meaningful way, Democrats could be headed to an electoral Armageddon on Nov. 2."
  • Don't Overreact to Lone Poll  Liberal blogger Steve Benen is skeptical. "The poll itself strikes me as dubious," he writes. "Remember, about a month ago, Gallup's generic-ballot showed Democrats jumping out to an unexpected six-point lead -- and I cautioned at the time that overjoyed Dems were almost certainly overreacting to an erratic poll. I have the same concerns now. (And I'd have the same reaction if, a month from now, the same poll showed the GOP's lead evaporating.) Looking back over the last several months, Gallup's generic-ballot has been all over the place, with no real rationale."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.