For those into the arena of public opinion data, Tuesday has been, by and large, a veritable buffet of suck for the Democrats concerned about their Congressional majority.
But, late in the day, another poll surfaced with a diametrically opposed forecast for the Blue team. The AP-GfK poll was released late in the day, and showed a sizeable edge for Democrats on the question of who voters wanted to see in control of Congress. The survey (PDF file) showed Democrats with a seven-point edge on the issue of Congressional control (46-39). This was actually an improvement for Dems, who trailed on this question with AP/GfK as recently as mid-April.
The AP/GfK was the lone ray of sunshine in what was otherwise an extraordinarily cloudy polling day for Democrats.
Gallup came out this morning with their weekly snapshot of the generic Congressional ballot. In bad news for Democrats, the parity that they saw in last week's incarnation of their Congressional tracking poll appears to be offically gone:
Now, Gallup's numbers have ping-ponged dramatically in the last two weeks after being relatively stable for most of the year. Furthermore, one of our community members, in a post earlier today, thinks that there might be something hinky in the crosstabs of this particular survey.
All of which would provide some small measure of comfort, if it weren't for the fact that another respected poll came out Tuesday, one which provided painful confirmation of the Gallup numbers:
The results are a wake-up call for Democrats whose loses in the House could well exceed 30 seats. In the named-congressional ballot in the 60 Democratic districts, Democrats trail their Republican opponent, 42 to 47 percent, with only a third saying they want to vote to-relect their member. In the top tier of 30 most competitive seats, the Democratic candidate trails by 9 points (39 to 48 percent) and by 2 points in the next tier of 30 seats (45 to 47 percent). On the other hand, the Republican candidates are running well ahead in their most competitive seats ( 53 to 37 percent).
What should stop the heart of Democratic political officials, at least for the moment, is that the list (PDF file) of 10 Republican districts polled includes some districts that Democratic pickups seemed assured (DE-AL, IL-10, LA-02), and another seven that were perceived as legitimate pickup opportunities. To put it another way, there were no "reaches" on that list.
The fact that the GOP performance in those 10 districts is R+16 (albeit with a fairly high margin of error) should worry Democrats. Remember too, they are down nine points in the 30 most vulnerable seats for Democrats, and even trail in that second-tier of seats (which contained some races--WI-07, VA-09, NY-25--that seemed like real longshots).
Part of the problem is the issue of terrain. John McCain carried 17 of the 30 Tier I Democratic seats in the survey, some by wide margins. Even in the so-called Tier II GOP pickup opportunities, President Obama fell short in 16 of them. This explains why it is not necessarily an indicator of an outlier that the sample (PDF file) for the survey leaned both conservative and Republican.
This poll underscores that even if the Democrats improve their standing with voters before the fall, they are fighting on turf that is predisposed to favor the other side. This is the completely predictable consequence of winning two wave elections in a row. The GOP is fighting a lot of these battles on nominally favorable ground.
However, it is worth noting that PA-12 was a McCain district that went Democratic earlier this year, and they did so by a surprisingly wide margin. Campaigns matter, and so do candidates. The GOP has shot their own prospects in the foot around the country by nominating less electable candidates in primaries. That might prove to be a small measure of salvation for the Democrats come fall, and could go a long way toward reducing a tsunami into a violent, but survivable, wave.