In what appears to be chilling news for Democrats, voters polled nationwide by George Washington University say they believe Republicans will pick up both the House and the Senate in November’s elections. The news, however, appears to be misleading: what voters believe across the country and how they say they’ll vote in their own districts are two different stories.
“In several key regions with numerous House and Senate seats in play — namely, the Midwest and Northeast — [Democrats] hold a 5-point advantage, suggesting the party’s congressional fortunes aren’t nearly as grim as the media coverage might suggest,” Politico editor Jim Vandehei writes Thursday.
“In the West — defined as Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington — Democrats hold a blowout 51-31 generic advantage,” he adds. “Those numbers, however, are tempered by findings that should send shudders down the spines of Democrats in the Mountain West: In that eight-state region, where the party has made significant recent inroads, the GOP held a 24-point lead.”
Yet the poll, conducted for Politico, says that voters believe — by a nine-point margin — the GOP will win both chambers of Congress.
Vandehei pens, “Likely voters polled said they anticipated Republicans will have a big night, picking up the 39 seats necessary to win the House (45-36, with 19 percent uncertain) and the 10 needed to recapture the Senate (46-37-17).”
However, when asked on Gallup’s generic Congressional ballot whether they’d vote for a Republican or a Democrat, they split 43 to 43. This is a slight shift from previous polling, which showed Republicans with a considerable lead.
The poll also reveals a significant “enthusiasm gap.”
The poll also showed wide enthusiasm gaps between the youngest and oldest voters. Seventy-nine percent of voters ages 18 to 34 said they were extremely or very likely to vote, compared with 96 percent of those age 65 or older.
When broken down by race, the gap is equally noticeable — and politically consequential for the Democratic Party. Just 76 percent of African-Americans said they were extremely or very likely to vote, compared with 92 percent of whites.
The rest of the poll similarly offers reasons for hope and hand-wringing for both parties, including signs that the Democrats’ blame-Bush-first campaign on the economy is resonating but that the blame-Boehner-next campaign for everything else has a long way to go.