Partisan Democrats finally had something to celebrate on Monday amid an election cycle dominated by polls suggesting the party in power will have a tough time of maintaining control for the Senate in November.
CNN/ORC released a poll on Monday which revealed that Republicans’ chances for retaking the Senate should perhaps not be as heavily favored by political prognosticators as they currently are. Among registered voters, Democrats enjoy a 6-point advantage on the question of which party they are planning to vote for in November. Among likely voters, the Democrats have a 1-point advantage over the GOP.
This is leading a few on the left to celebrate the demise of the narrative that 2014 will be a GOP “wave” election year:
No R wave in sight: New CNN national poll gives Dems 6 pt lead among reg voters and 1 pt lead among likely voters: http://t.co/OgaPSCq4KK
— Alan Abramowitz (@AlanIAbramowitz) October 27, 2014
Without throwing too much cold water on this narrative, Democrats are indulging in a bit of undue enthusiasm over the findings in this poll. For one, and while trying to avoid engaging in “unskewing,” it is perfectly reasonable to question a national survey which has a sample 10 points more Democratic than Republican and which indicates that self-identified independent voters will make up a plurality of the midterm electorate. The second and more compelling reason why Democrats should observe caution before touting this as the narrative-killing poll of the cycle, CNN’s generic ballot findings are a model of the voters who will turn out nationwide and not merely in the select states that will determine control of the Senate.
Democratic analysts are right, however, in interpreting this poll as an indication that a 2010-style “wave” election which favors Republicans is not in the cards.
While CNN/ORC found that Republican voters enjoy a 10-point edge over Democrats on the question of voter enthusiasm (36 percent to 26 percent among Democrats), a CNN/ORC poll released just days before the 2010 election found the GOP enjoying a 20-point edge over Democrats on this question.
Nevertheless, CNN was sure to note that the GOP’s enthusiasm edge will put Democratic candidates at a disadvantage. “That 10 point difference is certain to affect turnout and hurt Democrats’ chances in marginal districts,” said CNN polling director Keating Holland.
Also likely to benefit Republicans was CNN’s finding that 68 percent of respondents say that they are either “very” or “somewhat” angry over the state of the country. This, too, is commensurate with what CNN observed in 2010 just before the GOP took control of the House.
Moreover, when broken down regionally, CNN/ORC observed that disapproval with the job Barack Obama is doing in office (nationally at a disappointing 53 percent) is going to be a drag on Democrats running to serve as his allies in the U.S. Senate.
• In the Midwest, where Democrats are trying to hold an open Senate seat in Iowa, Obama has a 56% disapproval rating.
• In the South, where three Democratic incumbents are battling for re-election in Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Republicans are trying to hold an open seat in Georgia, as well as protect Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, the president has a 52% disapproval rating.
• In the West where Democratic incumbents are fighting for another six year term in Alaska and Colorado, Obama’s disapproval rating is 55%.
Regardless of what happens on November 4, and most would still sign on to the conventional belief that next Tuesday will be a good night for Republicans, more than a handful of pollsters will have pegged the national electorate quite wrong:
Just as Rasmussen and Gallup overestimated the Republican lean of the 2012 electorate and were excoriated by the industry of progressive punditry, a few of these outfits are going to have egg on their face and will be forced to review their methodologies ahead of 2016.