In every poll but one, the GOP is winning what is called the generic congressional vote. That is where a pollster asks the respondent if the election were held today, would you vote for a Republican or Democrat for congress. In every election cycle it's been an important marker to determine how the overall balance of the House of Representatives will be decided.
Other important markers include the approval/disapproval gap for the sitting President and the energy or enthusiasm level of those likely to vote. In every one of these categories the GOP holds a strong advantage. Political Scientists use this data and come up with remarkably accurate predictions on election outcomes.
Sean Trende (don't you love the name?)has recently concluded a new analysis that factors in the number crunching along with commentary about how Obama is weakening the Democrat brand that successfully won back the House in 2006. It's important to note that Mr. Trende was one of those who saw early on the potential for a Scott Brown win in Massachusetts. He sees the same dynamic continuing to work nationwide that we saw first in Virginia, New Jersey and then Massachusetts. Independents and moderates are abandoning the Democrat party and voting GOP. Mostly on the basis of failed Democrat promises to be fiscally responsible.
How Bad Could 2010 Really Get For Democrats?
By Sean Trende
Real Clear Politics
April 14, 2010
...I think those who suggest that the House is barely in play, or that we are a long way from a 1994-style scenario are missing the mark. A 1994-style scenario is probably the most likely outcome at this point. Moreover, it is well within the realm of possibility - not merely a far-fetched scenario - that Democratic losses could climb into the 80 or 90-seat range. The Democrats are sailing into a perfect storm of factors influencing a midterm election, and if the situation declines for them in the ensuing months, I wouldn't be shocked to see Democratic losses eclipse 100 seats.
It isn't just the generic balloting that has been horrendous. Every Democratic Senate candidate except five from very blue states (Pat Leahy (VT), Chuck Schumer (NY), Barbara Mikulski (MD), Dan Inouye (HI) and Richard Blumenthal (CT)) has had at least one poll test placing him or her below 50% this cycle. Similarly, the individual House polling has been uniformly dismal for Democrats. Democrats in light blue districts , like Ben Ray Lujan and Jerry Costello, have been significantly below 50% in polls. Democrats in red districts who normally receive around 60% of the vote are below 50% as well. If these Democrats are truly below 50% in their polling, a ninety-seat pickup is not out of the question.
And this is the present situation. If unemployment doesn't abate and incomes don't rise much, President Obama could easily be hovering around 40% approval in November. What does the generic ballot, which is partially keyed off of the President's approval rating, look like then?President Obama's policy choices to date are wreaking havoc on the brand that Democrats cultivated carefully over the past twenty years. Bill Clinton worked long and hard to make it so that voters could say "fiscal conservative" and "Democrat" in the same sentence, but voters are finding it difficult to say that again.
The map above illustrates an averaging of recent state polling for Obama's popularity. If this were translated to an electoral college map in 2012, Obama would be defeated in a landslide. What it says about Dem hopes for 2010 is also troubling. Their strength is limited to concentrated liberal strongholds whereas GOP strength is widespread and growing.
If brand damage is truly seeping over into Congressional races - and the polling suggests it is - then the Democrats are in very, very deep trouble this election. There is a very real risk that they could be left with nothing more than Obama's base among young, liberal, and minority voters, which is packed into relatively few Congressional districts. It would be the Dukakis map transformed onto the Congressional level, minus the support in Appalachia. That would surely result in the Democratic caucus suffering huge losses, and in turn produce historic gains for the GOP this November.