Thursday, June 16, 2005

What did I say about Congressional polling? (or why it may be looking like 1994 after all)

Remember in my last post I mentioned that the most important poll number is an incumbent's re-elect/someone else numbers. Granted, this poll has obvious bias issues, but the GOP response to this story makes me think they don't have much to dispute it. For those interested in the full story, click here.

In short, a poll conducted in the district of seven Republican congressional districts shows that voters are ready for a change.

"While Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) did not name the members, who are from districts 'around the country,' he said all polled at 43 percent or less when voters were asked if they would vote today to reelect their congressional representative, sources at the meeting told The Hill."

Indeed, two of the districts polled a re-elect number in the low 30s. Those are polling numbers worthy of Gray Davis (ironic since one of the low 30s came from a California Republican district.)

Normally, the obvious bias of a poll commission by the DCCC should be easy for a spinmaster to handle. But how's this lukewarm spin strike you?:

"Carl Forti, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, questioned the validity of the Democrats numbers. 'I'm not sure we have any that are polling at 43 percent or below,' he said."

I'm not sure we have any that are polling that low? Does that mean you need to look in the back or ask the store manager first? If the GOP had polling saying otherwise, I believe you would have a much stronger defense. The article attempts to do the NRCC's work for them by pointing out that in the latest ABCNews/WashPo poll Congressional representatives had a 60% approval rating by their own constituents. But the article fails to note that the very same poll had Congressional re-elect numbers in the low 40s.

Of course, one of those districts might have been California Republican "Duke" Cunningham who is embroiled in a growing scandal about a sweetheart real estate transaction with a defense contractor (and receiving other luxurious perks below costs.) Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has been covering that story well for the last few days and its worth a good read.

Back in March, "Lord of Darkness" Robert Novak wrote about growing complaints about Sen. Elizabeth Dole's lackluster recruiting efforts on behalf of the NSCC. (Sorry, I can't seem to locate a full copy of the Novak column.) And while Democrats have largely cleared the primary field for their top-tier recruits, Republicans seem more interested in recruiting candidates to face other Republicans than taking on Democrats.

So on general public mood and candidate recruitment, the Democrats hold an advantage over the Republicans at this point in the 2006 Congressional races. However, Republicans have a significant (and I believe, larger than usual) fundraising advantage in both the House and Senate. At this time, the campaign message is a dead-even draw: Republicans have a clear, pronounced platform that nobody likes, and Democrats have little of a message other than "I told you so."

Unfortunately for Democrats, if they are going to attempt the difficult task of a democratic legislative coup in 2006, they need to neutralize the GOP $$ advantage and begin presenting an articulate governing philosophy to win over frustrated voters, something Democrats have failed to do in every congressional election since 1994.

At best, we presently can expect some Democratic pick-ups, but neither chamber of Congress will switch hands.

Of course, it's still the pre-season.

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