Two weeks ago the lead was ten. Last time the lead was three points or less was … October 2009. Last time the Democrats scored as high as 42 percent in Rasmussen’s generic ballot polling? March 2009. In fact, since The One was inaugurated, they’ve never done better than today’s numbers.

Maybe it’s time to embrace Mickey Kaus’s argument that a smaller GOP majority would be better for the party. Victory through disappointment!

Republican candidates now hold a three-point lead over Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot for the week ending Sunday, October 3, 2010. This is the smallest gap between parties in roughly a year.

Forty-five percent (45%) of respondents say they would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate, while 42% would opt for his or her Democratic opponent. This is the first time during 2010 that the GOP edge has fallen below five points…

Most voters are skeptical about the Republicans’ new national Pledge to America, but most think the GOP is at least somewhat likely to do what it promises if it gains control of Congress.

This follows the DNC’s announcement this morning that it raised $16 million in September, their best month during a midterm campaign in about a decade. I’m actually not too worried, my eeyorish rep notwithstanding — read this Erick Erickson post and you’ll see why — but now that we know that this October will see things tighten just like in any other midterm, it’s safe to say that the predictions about a 100-seat earthquake won’t pan out. Not that they were ever really going to, but with Republicans ahead on the generic ballot by 12 points a few months ago, anything seemed possible.

Yesterday’s prediction: The GOP sweeps the midterms a la the end of Rocky III, via a devastating three-round demolition. Today’s prediction: The GOP sweeps the midterms a la the end of Rocky IV, after a brutal, hard-fought 15-round battle with the socialist foe. Tomorrow’s prediction, if the polls continue to move towards the Democrats: Er, this.

Update: Looks like this won’t be a 15-rounder after all. Weren’t there any Rocky movies where he won by TKO in, like, seven rounds or something? Damn these Stallone metaphors.

Gallup’s generic ballot for Congress among registered voters currently shows Republicans with 46% of the vote and Democrats with 43%, similar to the 46% to 46% tie reported a week ago. However, in Gallup’s first estimates among likely voters, based on polling from Sept. 23-Oct. 3, Republicans have a double-digit advantage under two separate turnout scenarios…

Based on statistical modeling of the historical relationship between the national vote and seats, any situation in which the Democrats have less than about 47% of the actual two-party national vote for Congress (i.e., 53% voting for the Republicans and 47% for the Democrats among those voting for one of the two parties) would strongly predict that Republicans would win enough seats to gain control of the U.S. House of Representatives. If there is a widely disproportionate skew in turnout toward Republican voters and their national vote lead ends up being in the double digits, the Republican gains would be very substantial.