Oct 05 2010
Update: A new WaPo/ABC News poll shows the same trend Cost notes below – massive rejection of the Dems by Independents:
Meanwhile, independents continue to lean heavily toward the GOP in their voting intentions, a sharp change from both 2006 and 2008. Among independent voters most likely to cast ballots this year, 53 percent say they favor the Republican in their district, compared with 33 percent who favor the Democratic candidate.
No matter the turn out model (no one knows what it will be), the coming landslide is baked in with this much disparity between the parties with the independent center of the country.
There is also this gem, which confirms my one complaint regarding Jay Cost’s assessment:
But almost a quarter of Democrats say a GOP-led Congress would take the country in a new and better direction or say a return to Bush’s policies would be good.
I still doubt the Dems will stay united and go 95-5% for their candidate. I maintain that the GOP not only has a massive lead with Independents, but they also have ripped well into the Democrat base as well. If the center-left joins the independents and defect, then the outcome this November will be historic.– end update
Jay Cost has an interesting take on the difference between the Rasmussen ‘likely voter’ model – now standing at +3% for the GOP, but having been at 10+% for the GOP for a long time – and the debut of the Gallup ‘likely voter‘ model for the generic congressional vote – now standing at +13-18% depending on the turnout model. As usual, Cost is cautious and correct on the meaning of polls this cycle:
I’ll put it this way, you’d have to give me some killer odds to get me to bet on a GOP +18 result, or even a GOP +13 result, which is what their expanded likely voter model has (more on these dueling likely voter models in another installment).
But beyond that, this is what I’d suggest. Put out of your mind the topline numbers, and you see something similar in both Rasmussen and Gallup: Republicans are running away with the independent vote. The differences in their final results are due to how many undecideds are left, how well both sides are sorted, and how many Democrats and Republicans are in the sample. My feeling, however, is that the two sides are ultimately going to be very well sorted (95 percent or so of Republicans voting Republican; 95 percent of Democrats voting Democratic), and the Democrats and Republicans should once again reach rough parity, as has happened in each of the last four midterms. The big question for now is how the independents break, and in both of these polls they are breaking heavily toward the GOP.
This is of course one major part of the equation. Independents are breaking in ALL polls towards the GOP, and in huge numbers. Even that flaky Newsweek poll showing dems up +5% had independents going to the GOP by over 15%. That poll shows you exactly why turnout models are dangerously unpredictable in wave elections. The only way for Newsweek to get a +5% for the Dems on the generic poll is to dial in enormous energy on the Dems side, enough to swamp the clear lead the GOP has in the other 2/3rds of the electorate (indies and GOP). Cost is right, the GOP has the independents and by huge margins across the nation.
Gallup’s 13% lead for the GOP is assuming a hefty Democrat turn out, but is that likely? The Democrats in Congress and the White House have seriously let down their base on Health Care, Global Warming, the war in Afghanistan, etc. Moreover, far left Democrats are now being rejected by majorities of the country. That is a debilitating position to be in. It is not an energizing state of mind. There are no victory laps happening, just rejection.
Moreover, I am not buying the idea the Dems will break 95-5 for this liberal Congress. I think there are only two possible options, neither of which will save the Democrats. We already see left of center Congressional Democrats running against their own party, this Congress and their President. There are many more in the electorate, and their numbers are greater than 5%. Either center-left Dems go to the polls and vote out their party, or they stay home and cripple the Dem turnout numbers. Either way, that leaves the small 20% of the electorate who call themselves liberals/progressives to face a wave made up of the other 80% of the electorate. I just don’t see a unified Democrat response in the mix.
In the 18% GOP lead scenario the GOP comes out and swamps the independents and Dems, which is clear in the Gallup turnout mix provided with the new poll data (click to enlarge):
I’m not sure the GOP will swamp the independents that much under the 18% scenario. I am sure the GOP + Independents will swamp the Dems, so I would wager a top end mix is 36-32-29 (R-I-D). But now we talking about where inside that 13-18% range the election will fall. At those levels all outcomes are horrible (to one degree or another) for Dems.
Under the ‘registered voter‘ model you get a +3%, just like Rasmussen. This is where there is no enthusiasm gap – and yet the GOP has a healthy and historically rare lead. Unrealistically, this scenario shows the GOP turnout the lowest of all groups. This is not the best Dems will achieve, it is the best they wish they could achieve. This is a complete fiction.
The other two options show increasing levels of GOP and Independent voters – they demonstrate two versions of the enthusiasm gap’s potential power. I agree with Cost this is probably the ceiling – but it is not that high a ceiling given the mood of the electorate.
While Democrats are either feeling rejected (far-left) or with buyers remorse (center-left), the rest of the electorate is white hot mad. After two years of raging at town halls, gathering at protests and registering their opposition to the liberal carnage going on I seriously doubt the wave of anger will simple dissipate before November’s elections. This is what people have been waiting for. This is the alternative to pitchforks and revolution – executing the power of the ballot box. There is no equivalent rallying energy on the left (as we saw in the battle of the DC Mall demonstrations). There is a 2-1 enthusiasm gap in those ready to march into the voting booth and throw the Democrats out. We saw it in the primary voting numbers where the GOP side crushed the Democrat side. We see it in poll after poll.
Unlike Cost I can envision a 13% route for the GOP. When people are protecting their way of life, their family, their community they become incredibly focused and energized. The liberals have two years of failures and backroom politics at their back. I just don’t see any indication that the tsunami has lost any discernible amount of its energy. Even a fractional reduction (to take a breather) is not going to help the Dems, since they created an enormous backlash in two short years run amok.
The laws of physics apply here. All that energy that was in the Rasmussen polls and is now in the Gallup poll and is even hidden in the Newsweek poll did not go anywhere. Where could it have gone? Would dirty tricks fool an electorate one more time, or are the voters willing to try anything to get the jobs back and their futures back? I suspect Rasmussen is having trouble tapping the core of the wave, they are so fed up they are tuned out until November. Pollsters are just barely able to detect a portion of this movement, because they are seen as part of the Political Industrial Complex. And of course, their turnout models must look like some science fiction right now, because they have never seen the like before. Which is exactly what we have been seeing all year.