Democrats Edge Ahead of Republicans in 2010 Election Poll
A poll of registered voters conducted by Gallup shows that for the first time in months, Democrats have edged ahead of Republicans in a generic ballot for the 2010 midterm elections. Although the fate of the US Congress may still be in doubt, this is good news for the progressive base that helped the Democrats win during the last 2 election cycles.
The narrative by the main stream media for the entire year has revolved around how the Republicans, energized by the far right Tea Parties would take back Congress. This may have served to capture some headlines, but may not end up being accurate on election day.
Pollster.com displays a more modest narrowing of the poll numbers, and using a variety of sources currently has the GOP ahead of the Democrats 45.5% to 42.3%. Generic ballots are an interesting gauge towards where voters stand, but these numbers do not necessarily reflect the outcome of the national elections in November.
Following the primary election of another far right Tea Party candidate, this time in Delaware, the odds of a Republican takeover of the US Senate slipped from 26% to 15% according to Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight. Key races to watch here are in California, Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, and New Hampshire.
The Republicans and their Tea Party allies appear 63% likely to take control of the US House at this time, again according to Nate Silver. House races always have fare less rigidity than their Senate counterparts, so much of this will depend much more on the momentum of the final month and a half before election day.
The party of the US President typically loses seats during every midterms election, but especially the first one, although there are a few exceptions (notably Bush in 2002 and FDR during the Great Depression). Mary Jordan on Politifact.com writes, “since 1862, the president’s party has averaged losses of about 32 seats in the House and more than 2 seats in the Senate.”
The last comparable election to 2010 would likely be 1994 when a similar strain of right wing fear mongering mixed with heavy obstructionism led to a loss of 52 House and 8 Senate seats by the Democrats. It could be argued that the political pendulum has swung back to a progressive orientation however, and that these tactics by the right will not play out so well this time around.
Much of the results on election day will depend on momentum, and currently there is still a significant enthusiasm gap between the parties. The same Gallup poll that demonstrated the Democratic lead also showed that Republican voters were more energized 47-28%. Despite many modest legislative victories in the last two years, there have been many setbacks for the progressive base that was so instrumental in the 2006 and 2008 election victories, and much of the rhetoric from Democratic incumbents thus far has been tame compared to their Republican challengers. There are also various economic reasons that the Democrats could seize on according to Robert Reich.