Sunday, September 14, 2008

Will the Republicans retake Congress?

Looking at several polls recently it appears the generic congressional ballot which had been in favor of the democrats for all of 07 and most of 08 has tightened. Polls for most of 08 had the Democrats up double digits poised to increase their margains in the House and Senate. Their was even talk of the Democrats having a filibuster proof majority, you need 60 votes to end a filibuster. People were talking about 58 or 59 seats for the dems, throw in liberal Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins both from Maine and Gordon Smith from Oregon and you'd have all the votes you'd needed.

However, recent polls have seen Republicans surging in the Generic Congressional vote. A USA Today/Gallup poll even has it as a 50-45 edge for Republicans. Every other poll still has the Democrats up around 5 points. The RCP average has it Democrats by 4.2%. An average of all polls taken in July gave Democrats a 12 point advantage on the generic ballot question. What is causing this turn in the Polls? I believe it is the McCain pick of Palin which has united Conservatives and bought many of them who had left back to the Republican Party.

Before the Pick of Palin Obama had a comfortable lead on McCain and many Republicans were thinking of not voting at all. Obama had around an eight point lead on McCain before the convention. Of the last twenty-four polls taken before the RNC McCain led in four and was tied in two others. Obama led in eighteen and was up by at least six points in five of the last six polls taken before the Start of the RNC. However in eleven polls taken since the end of the RNC Obama has led in just two and was tied in one. McCain now holds a 2.1% lead in the Real Clear Politics average.

With this shift in the polls has come a shift in the electorial college. The state polls have all shifted in McCain's favor recently. States like Washington, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania shifting toward McCain could allow the Republicans to pick up some House seats, even if McCain does not carry those states in November.

09/14 Minnesota Leaning Obama »»» Toss Up McCain 227 - Obama 207
09/13 Indiana Toss Up »»» Leaning McCain McCain 227 - Obama 217
09/11 Florida Toss Up »»» Leaning McCain McCain 216 - Obama 217
09/11 North Carolina Leaning McCain »»» Solid McCain 216 - Obama 217
09/11 Georgia Leaning McCain »»» Solid McCain 216 - Obama 217
09/09 North Carolina Toss Up »»» Leaning McCain McCain 189 - Obama 217
09/09 New Jersey Solid Obama »»» Leaning Obama McCain 189 - Obama 217
09/08 Washington Solid Obama »»» Leaning Obama McCain 174 - Obama 217
09/07 Pennsylvania Leaning Obama »»» Toss Up McCain 174 - Obama 217

So with the polls heading in McCain's favor, the Generic Congressional ballot gap closing, and Congress having a 20% job approval rating can the Republicans regain control of Congress in 2008? Republicans are in great shape to pick up seats in the House and Senate. I wouldn't bet against the Republicans retaking Congress in November.

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  1. I don't think it should come as any surprise that the numbers are tightening. That's pretty well what they always do as election day nears. I also don't recall any serious discussion of a straight up Democratic filibuster proof majority in the Senate. I'd say 55-57 Democratic Senators is more likely.

    Also, Obama did not have a "comfortable lead" over McCain prior to the Palin pick. Obama's lead has been around 3-4 points for pretty much all summer (discounting fluctuations for the conventions, VP nominations, and Obama's trip to Berlin... all of which are typical poll changers that don't mean much in the long term).

    His lead now looks to be returning to roughly the same as it has been. Palin's favorable numbers are down, her unfavorables are up, and most of the country -- about 75% -- believe McCain picked her for political reasons not because she was actually qualified.

    And it's important to note that Democrats have registered more voters -- voters who thusly by definition will not turn up on any likely voter models -- than Republicans. In fact, in the 26 states that register voters according to political party, the Democrats have added 2 million new voters, while the GOP has lost about 400,000.

    So, no, the Republicans are not going to retake Congress. Short of some massive blunder, that is literally impossible. I'd advise you to keep your posts somewhere in the hemisphere of reasonable. Talking about how much the GOP can limit Democratic gains is one thing, but hypothesizing that they may take back Congress is another. And it'll make November look even worse than it's already going to be if you unrealistically raise the expectations for the GOP.