As if Democrats didn’t have enough trouble in this midterm cycle, it appears now that Republicans have actually picked up more momentum heading into the general election.  As candidates begin the eight weeks of serious campaigning, both CNN and Rasmussen show in their latest polls that the GOP has extended its already-historic leads.   Rasmussen shows Republicans equaling their high of +12, while CNN shows a +7 and a big shift in independents.

First, CNN notes that the GOP has convinced the middle (via Jammie Wearing Fool):

With November’s midterm elections less than two months away, a new national poll indicates that the Republicans’ advantage over the Democrats in the battle for Congress is on the rise.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday, the GOP leads the Democrats by 7 points on the “generic ballot” question, 52 percent to 45 percent. That 7-point advantage is up from a 3-point margin last month. …

“Now, a lot of those voters appear to be bolting to the GOP,” Holland said. “Republicans now have a whopping 38-point advantage on the generic ballot among voters who dislike both parties.”

Republicans also have a large and growing advantage among independents. Sixty-two percent of independents questioned say they would vote for the generic Republican in their district, with three in 10 saying they’d cast a ballot for the generic Democrat. That 32-point margin for the Republicans among independents is up from an 8-point advantage last month.

And it only resulted in a 4-point shift in the overall gap?  It sounds as though CNN may be undersampling independents.  This poll sampled the general population, too, and not registered or likely voters (as its previous poll may also have done).  That’s less predictive than either of the other two sample types, but should also favor Democrats in normal circumstances.

Rasmussen, however, samples likely voters, and sees the same trend:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 48% of Likely Voters would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate, while 36% would opt for his or her Democratic opponent. The survey data was collected on the seven days ending Sunday, September 5, 2010.

This matches the largest advantage ever measured for the Republicans. Three weeks ago, the GOP also held a 12-point lead.

Independents in this survey chose Republicans 51/22, almost but not quite the same margin as CNN found in its survey.  Republicans win both men and women (the latter of which by 44/41), every age demographic, and every income demographic except those earning less than $20,000 per year — and Democrats barely win those voters, 41/37.

Obama gets a 45/54 approval rating in Rasmussen’s poll, but among independents it drops to 36/62, with 51% strongly disapproving.  He’s outperforming his Democratic Party colleagues, but not by much, and it’s clear that his unpopularity is having a big impact on the midterms.

The GOP looks to be rolling towards a huge midterm victory — but they should take nothing for granted.  This could shift considerably over the next eight weeks in either direction.  Republicans need to keep tying individual Democrats to their party leadership, including Obama, and make certain not to offer any gaffes to their opponents that could distract voters from the debacle of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda.