Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Midterm Polls and News

So we are seeing two trends develop. First, the polling data has stopped its rightward shift. Over the past six to eight weeks, the President's favorability buffer - the gap between fave and unfave ratings - has grown from about even to 3-4 points on the sunny side. So far, the main trend has been a reduction in unfavorability ratings rather than an increase in faves. Also, the slight GOP advantage in the generic congressional vote is again gone. If you take the Rasmussen polls out of the equation, which are slanted to the GOP given the "likely voter" definition the picture is even clearer. This trend is to be expected. We have health care out of the news, the economy creating jobs, hundreds of thousands of people re-entering the workforce (a sign of hope), and the GOP looking bad on banking reform, immigration, and the oil spill. My guess is that we've seen the GOP high-water mark already, probably in early April 2010. Whether this stabilizes or swings somewhat back to the Dems has yet to be seen. With improving economic numbers, I expect at some gradual deflation in GOP expectations and numbers over the next 5 months. Already, the polls are again showing a possible Dem pickup of the Ohio senate seat from retiring Voinovich (something considered fairly certain 12 months ago).

The other curious trend is in the primaries. Sestak may beat out Specter for the Dem nomination in PA and, in Arkansas, Bill Halter has already forced Blanche Lincoln to the left on banking reform issues. The lower enthusiasm #s for Democrats mean that the Democratic primary electorate is more liberal than it was in 2008. It is starting to show. On the GOP side, the Tea Party rise is pushing the median GOP voter to the right. It bears repeating that primary electorates are always more partisan than the general electorate, but this is a further deviation from the normal trend.

This means that the center ground is largely up for grabs in the midterms, and that's bad for the GOP. Why? Because that was their job. You can't win control of the US congress playing to your base - you have to play to the center. The GOP playbook of banking hard right just won't cause voters to change course. Worse, it allows President Obama to occupy the center ground, increasing his popularity to the ultimate benefit of his party. Put another way, Obama will pull the Dems back to the center, but the GOP has jettisoned its own counterweights that might have helped it do the same. I'm wearing my cautiously optimistic face now.


Raised By Republicans said...

In general I agree with your analysis. Just a few quibbles...

You say that the GOP is looking bad on, among other things, immigration. But while enlightened liberals like us might think the GOP is marching off the deep end on immigration, nationally, the Arizona shenanigans are playing well. I checked out polling on immigration laws and they are reporting several things of interest:

54% of adults disapprove of Obama's management of immigration policy (only 25% approve).

62% of adults approve of allowing Arizona police to question anyone they think is in the country illegally.

Republicans far outstrip the Democrats when it comes to which party people trust to handle immigration issues.

The good news is that only 7% think immigration is a top priority for the country. The Democrats can win this fight by not having it. And since the Democrats control the agenda in both houses of Congress, they can at least keep it off the national agenda if, unfortunately, not the Arizona agenda.

It would be a monumental electoral blunder for the Democrats to push hard this summer on an immigration bill. By far the most commonly identified top priority for potential voters is jobs and the economy.

That too is relatively good news for the Democrats - if they spend more time talking about how they prevented economic disaster and stimulated the recovery than they do talking about helping immigrants.

That said, the country is increasingly sympathetic to immigrants and their families. So being on their side (really not just rhetorically) is a good long term strategy for the Democrats. It's just not good strategy for the short term.

The Law Talking Guy said...

The immigration thing is a wedge issue for the GOP, that's the problem. It costs them conservative Latinos and it doesn't get them any new voters, for precisely the reason you mention, that immigration is so not a priority right now. Also, while the AZ law may (when described in somewhat incorrect terms by pollsters) may have net fave ratings, the immigration debate as a whole puts some nasty racist people in the press.
It's kinda like the gay thing: while the public has a majority that agrees with the GOP generally on not liking gay marriage, the public also reacts badly to gay-bashing.

These reasons are why immigration "reform" is a net negative, and why the GOP is trying hard to avoid an immigration discussion nationwide. If they thought pushing an AZ-type law through DC would work wonders electorally, they would seek it nationally (say, tying highway $$ to enacting an AZ-type law). They don't want to do it.