Thursday, August 12, 2010


Congressional Democrats have a higher net favorability rating than Congressional Republicans by about 10%. Meanwhile, Republicans are beating Democrats in the generic ballot by 5%. (My sense is that the generic ballot is the one to use to predict the 2010 election. It's a ballot!) This makes a straightforward kind of sense, I suppose, because Democratic control means that most races have a congressional Democrat against a Republican challenger. So is this just an issue of anti-incumbent sentiment? I'd be surprised if that was the sole cause of such a big difference.


Blue said...

Always remember the difference in groups.

Polls of all Americans are more liberal than polls of Registered Voters are more liberal than polls of likely voters.

I think the two polls you are comparing look at the first group versus the third.

Petey said...

Perhaps this is playing a part in the generic ballot numbers.

Are you part of the "left", Neil? If so, how do you feel about a nominally Democratic White House waging war on you?

If the WH wants a Speaker Boehner to run against in 2012, how do folks of the "left" properly deal with that set of cards?

low-tech cyclist said...

While I think the generic ballot is a better guide to November's outcomes than the favorability ratings are, I think that an even better approach is to consider the regional breakdowns in that ballot.

Here you go:

Dems GOP
NE 55 30
S 31 52
MW 49 38
W 44 43

A lot of Blue Dogs in the South are gonna get blown away in November, and we're undoubtedly going to lose some seats in the West as well, since I'm sure we have a bit more than 50% of the seats in that region right now.

But based on those numbers, we should be OK in the Midwest, and we've got absolutely nothing to worry about in the Northeast.

Here's your regional definitions, by the way (assuming the pollsters use the Census definitions):

Northeast: the six New England states, plus NY, NJ, PA.

South: TX, OK, LA, Arkansas, and everything south of the Ohio River and the Mason-Dixon line (including MD and DE).

Midwest: Kansas, Missouri, and the states directly north of them, plus everything north of the Ohio River.

West: Everything west of (but not including) the central tier of states from ND through TX.

Neil Sinhababu said...

Understand this about me, Petey -- I'm a Pelosi and Merkley booster first these days, not an Obama booster. I think we got more good stuff out of Obama than we would have out of Hillary. But really that's not a substantial allegiance of mine.

There's a huge amount to gain in letting the Democratic base know about the value of the Pelosis and Merkleys of the world, no matter what kind of White House we have. So that's the value I can add here.

The regional thing is a good point, ltc, and I look forward to when we start seeing rich enough district-by-district polling data that we'll be able to tell what we're likely to win and lose.

Petey said...

"Understand this about me, Petey -- I'm a Pelosi and Merkley booster first these days, not an Obama booster. I think we got more good stuff out of Obama than we would have out of Hillary. But really that's not a substantial allegiance of mine."

I'm glad it's not a substantial allegiance of yours. It seems (non-provably) reasonably obvious that Clinton wouldn't have worked at cross-purposes with the 111th Congress in the utterly unbelievable way that Obama has.

But I think you have to go a bit further than just not being an "Obama booster". It's worthwhile to be truthful about this WH's lack of a relationship to the Democratic Party. To be a good Democrat, one essentially has be a "Obama detractor".

And hey, it works for everyone. The WH doesn't even want to be perceived as part of the Democratic Party. Why not help them out by being up-front about their game?

You may be a Pelosi and Merkley booster, but this WH sure ain't...

Neil Sinhababu said...

As previously noted, I disagree with you on the Clinton point. Looking back at the primary, she didn't come out with any serious left-wing policy views until she was forced to by the circumstances (by which I mean JRE). Her most influential consultant's approach involves doing as little as possible. I'm not sure we would've even seen an attempt to fix health care under her.

I don't think Obama has worked at cross-purposes with progressives, for the most part. I just think he's been fairly lethargic in pursuing our goals, though he occasionally does little things to help out (for example, doing that health care summit to buy Harry and Nancy more time to get the votes together).

You think that he prevented Democrats from unleashing the 50-vote Senate and really getting things done. I think the filibuster would probably still be here even if Obama had waged war against it. The real obstacle is corrupt old Senate fogeys in the Democratic caucus, including liberals like Chris Dodd, who was recently lecturing freshman Senators on how filibuster reform was tantamount to abolishing the Senate. Enough of those guys, and there's no way to fix the filibuster.