The Hill poll shows Democrats about to lose the South

posted at 10:39 am on October 27, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

In their latest look at House races around the country, The Hill sees the South slipping away from Democrats in a big way.  Veterans like John Spratt in South Carolina, Allen Boyd in Florida, and Jim Marshall in Georgia face almost certain defeat, according to the new polling.  With the big dogs dropping, the freshmen don’t have much of  a chance, either:

Nowhere are Democrats more clearly threatened with heavy defeat than in the South.

Nov. 2 looks set to reverse a trend of recent elections that suggested the blue party might claw its way back in states dominated for a generation by the GOP. …

Democrats hold 59 Southern House seats and could lose a dozen of them — helping Republicans toward the net gain of 39 they need for control of the House. …

Reps. John Spratt (D-S.C.), Allen Boyd (D-Fla.), Chet Edwards (D-Texas) and Jim Marshall (D-Ga.) — with 70 years of congressional service between them — trail by double digits, according to The Hill’s poll. Spratt is down by 10 points; Boyd trails by 12, as does Edwards and Marshall is behind by 13.

Throughout the four weeks of The Hill’s polling, the Southern tsunami has been building, and it hasn’t been confined to long-term incumbents, even though incumbency is a negative among likely voters.

The polling, released this morning by The Hill, looks devastating in the aggregate.  Although Republicans only win a 46/42 advantage on the generic ballot in these races, they also have a much higher favorability rating, too.  Democrats get a +1, 46/45, with a -3 among independents, 43/46.  Republicans have a +16, 48/32, with a +14 among independents, 47/33.  In Texas’s 17th CD, where Chet Edwards faces defeat by 13 points, the GOP has a 56/31 favorability rating.

One by-now familiar piece of baggage: Barack Obama.  The man who once claimed to Democrats that the difference between 1994 and 2010 is “you’ve got me” was right in one respect; he’s definitely having an impact on the midterms, just not the one he presumed.  Obama’s approval rating in the aggregate among these districts is 41/56, and a stunning 37/61 among independent voters.  Even among women, Obama has only a 45/53 rating.

Let’s take a look at some of the specific races in this latest pass, and peek under the hood at the numbers:

  • FL-02: Incumbent Allen Boyd has a 34/54 favorability rating, 28/60 among independents.  His opponent, Steve Southerland, has already hit 50% to Boyd’s 38%, and based on his numbers, Boyd isn’t going much higher than that.
  • CO-03: John Salazar is in big trouble here, down four to Scott Tipton, 43/47.  He’s hit nearly the peak of his favorability in western Colorado (46/48), where fellow Democrat John Hickenlooper described voters as “backwards thinking.”  He’s the brother of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, whose boss gets a 43/55 job approval rating from likely voters.
  • GA-08: Jim Marshall actually has a slightly favorable rating at 45/40, but he’s trailing Austin Scott anyway, 37/50, and by 22 points among independents, 30/52.  He’s losing both men and women by double digits.
  • IN-09: Baron Hill has a 2-point lead in this race but hasn’t hit the 50% mark yet, 46/44.  Independents are breaking hard for Todd Young, 49/32, and Young leads among men, 48/43.  The sample here was D+3 in a district with a Cook rating of R+6, though, so Hill is probably doing much worse than this, especially with Obama’s 45/53 approval rating.
  • ND at large: Surprisingly, this poll shows Earl Pomeroy leading by a point with an R+10 sample.  Almost everyone else has Pomeroy trailing badly.  We’ll see in a week, but I’d call this one an outlier.
  • PA-11: Lou Barletta leads Democratic incumbent Paul Kanjorski by five, 48/43 despite a D+25 advantage in the sample.  (Cook has this as a D+4 district.)
  • SC-05: John Spratt once claimed that a party that couldn’t produce a budget had no right to govern.  His constituents are taking his advice.  The powerful chair of the Budget Committee is down ten to Mick Mulvaney, 39/49, and down 23 points among indepedents, 31/54.  Obama’s 44/55 approval rating isn’t helping
  • SD at large: Incumbent Stephanie Herseth Sandlin leads by three but only gets 45% of the vote.  Kristi Noem is within range of unseating the heretofore popular Herseth Sandlin, whose favorability (56/38) reflects the degree of difficulty Noem will have.  Obama’s 37/59 approval rating should help.
  • TX-17: Edwards is down 13 points in a district that already tilts Republican anyway.  Obama has a 32/66 approval rating here.  This one is so obvious that even the Democrats stopped spending money here.

Update: Had Spratt in the wrong Carolina in the first paragraph; now fixed.


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