Now that the last of the primaries have concluded, pollsters have rushed to get their surveys out at the opening of the general-election season. So far, the results look mostly promising for the GOP. Although Gallup’s poll numbers on the Congressional election look like a bad ride at Six Flags, the rest of the national pollsters have shown a steady momentum for Republicans in the generic ballot question. The new Associated Press poll shows likely voters giving the GOP a ten-point lead, 53/43, on the question, and see little hope for a Democratic rebound:
Tilted toward the GOP from the start of the year, the political environment has grown even more favorable for Republicans and rockier for President Barack Obama and his Democrats over the long primary season that just ended with a bang.
With November’s matchups set and the general election campaign beginning in earnest Wednesday, an Associated Press-GfK poll found that more Americans say the country is headed in the wrong direction than did before the nomination contests got under way in February. Also, more now disapprove of the job Obama is doing. And more now want to see Republicans in control of Congress rather than the Democrats who now run the House and Senate.
The country’s pessimism benefits the out-of-power GOP, which clearly has enthusiasm on its side. Far more people voted this year in Republicans primaries than in Democratic contests, and the antiestablishment tea party coalition has energized the GOP even as it has sprung a series of primary surprises.
Turnouts in primaries may end up challenging the likely-voter models used by pollsters in this cycle. Even the GOP got surprised in Delaware, for instance:
Indeed, Republicans expected turnout of 30,000 to 40,000 in Delaware on Tuesday. Some 57,582 people showed up to vote as tea party-backed Christine O’Donnell upset moderate Rep. Mike Castle for the Senate GOP nomination. By most accounts, the outcome diminished Republican chances of winning former Vice President Joe Biden’s seat. But Republicans got their preferred candidate in New Hampshire as former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte fended off tea party-supported Ovide Lamontagne by a razor-thin margin.
We saw this throughout the primary season. In Missouri, despite neither party having a competitive primary for the US Senate, Republicans drew twice as many voters to the polls as Democrats for that primary. In Wisconsin on Tuesday, Republican turnout dwarfed that of Democrats in a state Barack Obama easily won in 2008. New Hampshire’s famously independent voters turned out in much larger numbers for the GOP as well. That gives a concrete example of the enthusiasm gap in this year’s cycle.
And it matters. In the AP survey, a registered voter sample shows an even split on the generic Congressional ballot, 47/47. Without leaners, the GOP holds a two-point edge, 44/42. But when leaners are excluded from the likely-voter sample, that ten-point gap expands to 51/39.
The news continues to worsen for Obama. He gets a 42/58 on the economy, a 38/61 on the budget deficit, 40/59 on immigration, , and 42/58 on unemployment. Republicans outscore Democrats on trust on the economy (46/41), national security (54/37), federal deficit (47/40), taxes (48/42), and job creation (45/42). And this is in a sample with a 44/40 split for Democrats, with leaners; without leaners, it’s 31/25 for Democrats. If they can’t get better numbers than this from a six-point lead in the base sample, the Democrats are heading for the woodshed in less than seven weeks.