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Democrats Retain Slight Lead in Congressional Polls

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This post originally appeared on Open Left.

There is going to be a lot of news today about  the latest Gallup generic congressional ballot poll showing Republicans with their largest lead ever in that poll, 49%--43%.  While that certainly is not good news for Democrats, it cannot be emphasized enough that this poll is still just one of twenty-four generic congressional ballot polls to be released this month.  In the overall average of those 24 polls, Democrats still hold a slight edge, 44.17%--44.04%:

Generic Congressional Ballot, June 2ndPolls can be found at  Pollster.com and  Pollingreport.com(Note: Zogby interactive also released generic congressional ballot polls during the past month, but they are not included in these averages due to their  horrendous track record)

Some might object to this poll averaging methodology, arguing that including all of the polls over the past month, and also including multiple polls from individual polling firms, will miss developing trends. However, not including multiple polls from the same polling firm, and including only the most recent polls, has been shown to produce less accurate poll averaging results (I would know, since  I used that type of less accurate methodology in 2008, and  conducted research to find a more accurate method for 2010).  To put it a different way, removing older polls and multiple polls from individual pollsters produces results in a less accurate poll methodology that often finds trends which do not exist.

The methodology I am using in 2010 has found minimal movement--less than 2.3% on net--in  the national generic ballot over the past fours months.  This is a lot more believable than the idea that the country is swinging 5-6% points in favor of one party in a single week, even if it isn't uncommon for individual polls to show such a trend (Quinnipiac showed such a result for Democrats last week, for example).  The entire difference between the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections was less than a 10% net swing--how could one week of news early in the campaign season possibly result in half of the net swing from 2004 to 2008?  A swing like that requires a mega-story like a presidential convention or the financial metldown of September 2008, not run of the mill political tit for tat during the spring legislative and primary season.

Shorter version of all this: one generic congressional ballot poll means very little.  As always, look at the complete polling picture.

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