Democrats Hold Large 12-Point Lead Over GOP In 2006 Generic Ballot
I realize that week-to-week polls don’t matter, except as a guide to trends in public opinion. The truth is that Bush’s approval ratings could flat line tomorrow at 32% and it wouldn’t mean anything because 1) the GOP controls the media, and 2) the GOP controls both houses of Congress. In order for there to be any change for the better in Washington, and in order for Bush to finally be held accountable, the Democrats need to reacquire control in at least one house and pull closer in the other. And even with all my carping about the failings of Beltway Democrats and their leaders, the striking reality is that despite the lack of stout, combative members, and the absence of a consistent message, two recent polls show that voters are going to hand the Democrats their shot next year.
First, a Newsweek poll done last week showed a shocking 12-point lead for the Democrats in the 2006 generic ballot question. I was ready to dismiss that result as a post-Katrina voter meltdown. But then Pew came out with their most recent results, and to my surprise, in a poll done last week, the same 12-point lead for the Democrats surfaced when voters were asked which party they would vote for in their 2006 contests.
Again, I think it is staggering that the Democrats, who have looked for the better part of the last four years like a tribe lost in the desert, are looking at a 12-point advantage for 2006. Yes, I know that there is a lot of time between now and next November, and Rove is just now ramping up the “blame the blacks and immigrants” strategy for next year. Throw in a war scare for either Iran or Syria, and who knows how many voters the GOP can pull back their way in time for next year’s elections. But take a close look at how the Independents broke in the Pew poll, and you’ll see the challenge that Rove has for next year. Sure, you can pull your own cultists along for the ride next year, but if the current spread in the Pew poll for independents shows that there is a Democratic lead of 28 points for 2006, there is little Rove can do to help vulnerable GOP incumbents, especially when one in five moderate or liberal Republicans plan to vote for a Democrat. And take a close look also at how even conservative Democrats will stick with a Democrat next year.
And look at the breakdown by age group, and you’ll see the damage that the Social Security privatization debacle did to the GOP. First, the young are stoutly against the GOP presumably due to the war and their job prospects, but the gap in favor of the Democrats for next year amongst seniors is now 16 points, and as long as the Democrats remind seniors which party it was that tried to privatize Social Security, there is no way that Rove can turn those numbers around. Democrats should pound away at the GOP next year and continually remind voters that the GOP will try again to destroy Social Security.
As for the issues of relevance next year, note that in the Pew poll there is growing support for raising fuel economy standards, developing alternate sources of energy even at the expense of the environment, and for setting a troop withdrawal timeline in Iraq. Also, blaming Bush and oil companies for the high cost of gas is a winner as well. A simple message, delivered with even half the skill of this guy, will help every Democrat next year.
Six years of failure at home and overseas is starting to register with the public, and regardless of how poorly the Beltway Democrats have stood up as an opposition party these last four years, it may not prevent them from success next year. At least Dick Durbin and Charles Schumer feel good about the DSCC’s chances, and I think that Rahm Emmanuel will have a turkey shoot going after those 25-30 vulnerable House GOP incumbents.
(Graphics courtesy of PollingReport.com and Pew)