According to the folks at Gallup, Republicans now hold a 10-point lead over Democrats in what’s called the generic ballot for Congress. (Registered voters are asked whether they would be more likely to vote for a Republican or a Democrat, with no mention of actual candidates.)
Gallup reports that the 10-point lead is the biggest it has ever found for Republicans (Democrats had a 32-point lead in 1974, during the Watergate scandal.) The finding adds to evidence that a GOP takeover of the House is likely this year, although as Gallup also cautions, “Democrats moved ahead in Gallup’s generic ballot for several weeks earlier this summer, showing that change is possible between now and Election Day.”
As I’ve noted earlier, the GOP base has made it clear that it has no interest whatsoever in any sort of compromise, and will in fact punish any of its leaders who suggest otherwise. As a result, I think we’re doomed to two of the most divisive, tumultuous years we’ve seen in American politics in a long, long time. It could make the Clinton/Gingrich years seem tame in comparison.
And come 2012, the American people will be asked to render its verdict on that approach.
Politics, like baseball, is a long game played in half-inning increments. And in this particular frame, the Republicans have the bases loaded and nobody out, with the Dems just hoping to limit the damage until their own turn at bat.
UPDATE: Someone in comments asked for an explanation for the 10-point GOP surge. I responded that people are scared and frustrated, and in their fear and frustration they want government to do something. (The demand to be saved even comes from those — in some cases ESPECIALLY from those — who claim they want government out of the economy).
As I’ve written before, though, government even under President Bush didn’t deserve the lion’s share of the blame for getting us into this mess, and nothing government can do under President Obama can turn it around quickly either. But that doesn’t stop people from wanting what they can’t have.
As supportive evidence, take a look at the Yahoo chart below of the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the last three months. More specifically, look at the timing of the Dow high this summer and compare it to the timing of the Democrats’ highest advantage in the generic ballot. It lends credence to the economic explanation; as the news sunk in about a stalled recovery, the GOP poll performance began to improve considerably.