Dems Regain Electoral Footing Looking Ahead to 2010

News & Politics

Earlier in the week, in my first House forecast for 2010, I looked at generic congressional ballot polling from August 20th through September 17th.  At that time, the most recent survey from the nine polling organizations to publish generic congressional ballots conducted entirely since August 20th showed Democrats ahead by 3.5%.

However, several generic congressional ballots have been released since that time, which cumulatively show the Democratic position improving. Here are the most recent surveys from the eight polling organizations that have published generic congressional ballots which were conducted entirely since President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress. Most of the surveys can be found at

House Generic Ballot Polling, 9/10-9/24

Dem %Rep %PollsterDateTypePartisan
43%30%F&M9/21Live PhoneNone
40%32%Selzer9/14Live PhoneNone
47%41%GQR9/16Live PhoneDem
33%27%R20009/24Live PhoneDem
43%40%NBC9/20Live PhoneNone
36%36%OnMessage9/10Live PhoneRep

Not only has the Democratic advantage expanded to 5.4%, up 1.9% from a few days ago, but the only two polls showing Democrats in any real trouble are both Republican outfits. The four non-partisan polls in this group show Democrats ahead by 8.8%, identical to their margin in 2008.

The tea-party is over. Since President Obama's speech on September 9th, Democrats have clearly regained their electoral footing. For all the conservative organizing around tea parties since March, Republicans have made up no ground at all in the generic congressional ballot. While Obama's approval rating has dipped, his net job approval of +7.5% is identical to his victory margin in the 2008 election. The only people Republicans have won over are people who already voted for them in 2008.

The problem Republicans face is that their members of Congress and leading spokespeople are engaging in pretty much the same behavior as their more bombastic astroturf / grassroots supporters. The image of "average citizens" yelling at powerful members of Congress plays well. The image of members of Congress engaging in the same behavior--not so much. In a sense, the lack of what Matt Stoller called a "rootsgap" in his farewell article at Open Left is keeping Republicans in a poor electoral position, while it keeps Democrats from passing good legislation. However, the Progressive Block is helping to solve that gap, and today I feel more optimistic about the short-term political future than I have in months.

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