Gallup: This midterm election has gone where no party has gone before

In its last survey of likely voters before tomorrow’s only-poll-that-counts, Gallup finds an unprecedented enthusiasm gap favoring Republicans.  Depending on turnout assumptions, Republicans either will enter election day with a 10-point lead in the generic Congressional ballot at 52/42, or if the turnout is lighter, a fifteen-point lead, 55/40.  In Gallup’s history of asking the question, no party has ever had this kind of a lead heading into the final stretch:

The final USA Today/Gallup measure of Americans’ voting intentions for Congress shows Republicans continuing to hold a substantial lead over Democrats among likely voters, a lead large enough to suggest that regardless of turnout, the Republicans will win more than the 40 seats needed to give them the majority in the U.S. House.

The results are from Gallup’s Oct. 28-31 survey of 1,539 likely voters. It finds 52% to 55% of likely voters preferring the Republican candidate and 40% to 42% for the Democratic candidate on the national generic ballot — depending on turnout assumptions. Gallup’s analysis of several indicators of voter turnout from the weekend poll suggests turnout will be slightly higher than in recent years, at 45%. This would give the Republicans a 55% to 40% lead on the generic ballot, with 5% undecided. …

Gallup’s historical model suggests that a party needs at least a two-point advantage in the national House vote to win a majority of the 435 seats. The Republicans’ current likely voter margin suggests that this scenario is highly probable, making the question of interest this election not whether the GOP will win the majority, but by how much. Taking Gallup’s final survey’s margin of error into account, the historical model predicts that the Republicans could gain anywhere from 60 seats on up, with gains well beyond that possible.

It should be noted, however, that this year’s 15-point gap in favor of the Republican candidates among likely voters is unprecedented in Gallup polling and could result in the largest Republican margin in House voting in several generations. This means that seat projections have moved into uncharted territory, in which past relationships between the national two-party vote and the number of seats won may not be maintained.

Even if the pool goes to registered voters rather than likely voters, the GOP holds a four-point lead in that sample type.  It’s an indicator of a big, wide wave, perhaps much more significant than 1994.

And do you know who actually predicted this?  Barack Obama.  When asked how Democrats could avoid a 1994-style wipeout if Obama kept pressuring Democrats to vote for unpopular bills, he said the difference between 2010 and 1994 was, “You’ve got me.”  Gallup says that may be the difference, but not in the way Obama thought:

By 38% to 24%, Tuesday’s voters are more likely to be using their vote for Congress to send a message that they oppose President Obama than to signal that they support him, while 37% say they will not be sending a message with their vote.

Obama has been front and center in these midterm elections, both as a target for disaffected Republican voters and as a campaigner for Democratic candidates. The tendency of today’s likely voters to be sending a message against Obama rather than in support of him is similar to 2006 when more voters were issuing a message against President George W. Bush than for him. By contrast, in 2002 and 1998, voters were either mostly casting their vote as a show of support for the president or were evenly divided in their intentions.

Of course, all this means nothing if Republicans don’t turn out to vote tomorrow.  It’s not enough to watch the polls and figure that these elections have been won.  Tomorrow, Republicans and independents get to send a message to Washington and change the direction of its economic and fiscal policies, in what could be a historical rebuke and a real mandate to return to a limited government approach at the federal level.  Don’t miss your opportunity to be part of history tomorrow.