Steny Hoyer keeps talking about how ObamaCare will create a wave of voter support for Democrats in the mid-term elections, but the evidence makes him more Baghdad Bob than Michael Barone. Gallup becomes the latest pollster to find that the Republicans have moved ahead of Democrats on the generic Congressional ballot — and this time among registered rather than likely voters (via Andrew Malcolm):
Registered voters now say they prefer the Republican to the Democratic candidate in their district by 47% to 44% in the midterm congressional elections, the first time the GOP has led in 2010 election preferences since Gallup began weekly tracking of these in March.
The March 22-28 results were obtained after the U.S. House’s passage of landmark healthcare reform legislation on March 21. The shift toward Republicans raises the possibility that the healthcare bill had a slightly negative impact on the Democrats’ political fortunes in the short run. …
A Republican advantage among all registered voters in midterm elections has been rare in Gallup’s 60-year history of tracking congressional voting preferences, happening only a few times each in the 1950, 1994, and 2002 election cycles — all years in which Republicans had strong Election Day showings.
As Gallup notes in its write-up, the registered voter sample type does not have the best predictive model for upcoming elections. Republicans tend to turn out in greater percentages, which is why pollsters like Rasmussen tend to stick with likely-voter samples and why their polls tend to do better at predictions. Even in years where the GOP trailed Democrats on these polls, they made gains in Congress. The metric before this year was to pull within the margin of error, three or four points down, in order to get the signal for a good year. With the GOP moving ahead, it looks like a coming landslide.
Gallup also notes that this trend started after the passage of ObamaCare. Why did voters turn away from Democrats after their big legislative win of the session? A poll yesterday by Gallup provides the explanation:
Proponents, as well as opponents, of the new healthcare reform law think the legislation is less than perfect. Both groups agree that the bill didn’t do enough to deal with rising healthcare costs. Apart from this, however, they perceive very different types of flaws.
Forty-seven percent of Americans polled by USA Today/Gallup March 26-28 say it is a good thing the plan passed, while 50% call it a bad thing.
Three-quarters of the “good thing” group believe the law should include a government-run insurance plan, or public option. Also, 6 in 10 (59%) say it doesn’t go far enough in regulating the healthcare industry.
These findings — in particular the large majority still desiring a public option — could explain why more advocates of the reform bill do not feel “enthusiastic” about it. According to Gallup polling conducted immediately after passage, most supporters of the bill said they were “pleased” rather than “enthusiastic” (66% vs. 29%). By contrast, nearly as many opponents of the bill were “angry” as “disappointed” (46% vs. 52%).
Opponents of the plan — those calling passage a “bad thing” — are in near-total agreement that the bill goes too far in expanding the government’s role in the healthcare system and that it will cost the government too much.
Unfortunately for Democrats, the “bad thing” group still outstrips the “good thing” group, and that will continue to be the case while surprises like the menu mandate and throwing retirees into Medicare Plan D continue to arise. The Democrats didn’t even get a bump for finally winning a vote in a Congress they have controlled entirely since 2007. Instead, voters are unhappy with them for passing a bill they didn’t like. If Steny Hoyer thinks that means a big win at the midterms, then perhaps his Maryland district should send him into retirement rather than leaving him to his delusions.