Monday, August 15, 2011

Gallup Poll Has Good News For Democrats, Bad News For Republicans

Following a not some good batch of polling news for congressional Republicans, a new USA Today/Gallup poll finds that Democrats have taken the lead on the first generic congressional ballot poll of the 2012 campaign season.

The poll found that Democrats now have a 51 percent to 44 percent lead over Republicans among registered voters when asked which party's candidate they would vote for if elections for Congress were being held today.

The 7-percentage-point lead on the new poll isn't as strong as the Gallup polls that led up to the major Democratic swing elections in 2006 and 2008 (Gallup says Democrats averaged 11-point and 10-point leads in polls before those elections), but it was much better than most Gallup polls leading up to the 2010 Republican victory, which showed near-ties or Republican leads among registered voters.

Generic Congressional Ballot -- August 2005-August 2011

Tea Party Endorsements Could Do More Harm Than Good

Gallup also asked registered voters how a Tea Party endorsement would affect their likelihood of voting for a congressional candidate. The effect is nearly 2-to-1 negative, with 42% saying they would be less likely to vote for such a candidate versus 23% saying they would be more likely. About a third say it would make no difference or are unsure.

Among registered voters, most Republicans say a Tea Party endorsement would either make them more likely to vote for a candidate (44%) or make no difference (42%), while most Democrats say it would make them less likely to vote for a candidate (66%). Independents' reactions are similar to the national average, with 25% more likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by the Tea Party and 38% less likely.

Effect of Tea Party Endorsement on Congressional Vote -- Based on Registered Voters, August 2011

Bottom Line

The Democratic Party may be better positioned today to win seats in the 2012 congressional elections than it was leading up to the 2010 midterms that resulted in its loss of 63 House seats and majority control. However, the Democrats' advantage is currently not as strong as that seen in 2006, when they regained majority control from the Republicans, or in 2008, when they maintained it.

The full Gallup poll results are available here.

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