Senate Races Tighten As Generic Ballot Polls Widen
Earlier today, I said that I thought the New Jersey gay marriage issue would be used by the GOP as a last-minute gift to drive the base from the pews to the polls. On top of the existing GOP advantage in targeting their voters and getting them to the polls, the court decision could make the difference in several close races in the Senate. Why does it matter?
Democrats are ahead apparently safely in Ohio, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania, a net pickup of three GOP seats. Recent polls show that Tester is only ahead of the woeful Burns by the MOE. So the whole ball game for the Democrats comes down to 1) the ability of Menendez to hold off Kean, Jr., in New Jersey; and 2) the ability of Ford, Webb, and McCaskill to pull even and eventually ahead of Corker, Allen, and Talent by larger than 2-3 points to account for the GOP turnout advantage and see if independent voters pull them over the top.
To that end, note the following:
Rasmussen says that Webb has pulled virtually even with Allen in Virginia.
Rasmussen says that Ford and Corker are statistically tied.
Rasmussen says that McCaskill and Talent are statistically tied as well, with Talent having a slight advantage when leaners are factored in.
As for the election as a whole, several new polls show Democrats with a continuing advantage in the generic ballot. An AP/AOL poll done by Ipsos this week shows Democrats surging out to a 19-point generic ballot advantage among likely voters, up from a 10-point advantage earlier this month. And how do the experts see it? Charlie Cook says:
Another week has gone by and little has changed. The Republican Party still seems to be headed toward a very tough election.
In the House, Republicans are most likely to see a net loss of 20 to 35 seats, and with it their majority. In the Senate, the GOP could lose at least four, but a five- or six-seat loss is more likely. A six-seat change tips the chamber into Democratic hands.
Stuart Rothenberg thinks it might be even worse than that for the GOP:
With the national environment being as it is - and given the last round of redistricting, which limits possible Democratic gains - Republicans probably are at risk to lose as few as 45 seats and as many as 60 seats, based on historical results. Given how the national mood compares to previous wave years and to the GOP's 15-seat House majority, Democratic gains almost certainly would fall to the upper end of that range.
The paucity of competitive districts limits Republican risk, but how much? Unfortunately, I don't have an answer. But if redistricting cuts that kind of wave by half, Democrats would gain between 22 and 30 seats next month. And if the new districts slice Democratic gains by a smaller but still significant one-third, Democrats would pick up from 30 to 45 seats.
Dangerously big waves can be very strong and very unpredictable. They can bring widespread destruction and chaos. Republicans now must hope that this year's midterm wave isn't as bad as national poll numbers suggest it could be, because those national numbers suggest a truly historic tidal wave.And that is exactly the problem. Rove said earlier this week that despite the national polls, the district by district polls he and the RNC have paid for show the GOP doing much better. He might be right, especially given the GOP turnout operation. But for Rove to be correct that there is a disconnect between what respondents tell the national pollsters and what they will do when they get in the polling booth, you would also have to believe that these respondents say they are down on the GOP but are then flip-flop and vote for their GOP representative anyway when they actually vote.
Do you think that is plausible?