Opinion: No Obama steam, Gallup’s generic congressional poll finds; Republican lead holding strong 15 days out


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Despite optimistic talk and President Obama’s nearly constant transcontinental campaign carbon footprint, a new Gallup Poll today finds Republicans holding a strong lead in the generic congressional poll among registered voters or likely voters, in big ballot turnouts and lesser ones for the Nov. 2 voting.

With but two weeks left before Obama’s first midterm verdict, for the third straight week the Gallup Poll finds registered voters choosing the GOP over the Democrats, 48% to 43%. Among the now more important category of likely voters, Republicans have built a lead ranging from 11 points to 17 points.


According to Gallup, the wide disparity in the findings indicates Nancy Pelosi’s days as House speaker are numbered, indicating a likely turnover of control to Republicans, at....

...least in that body. The GOP needs to gain 39 more seats to hold a majority in the legislative chamber where all financial legislation originates. Some polls indicate the party’s gain may be more like 55. The largest turnaround in U.S. history occurred in 1894 during the Cleveland administration when Republicans gained 130 out of a then-total 357 House seats.

The president and his Delaware sidekick have taken to the road, separately and together, in an effort to rouse Democrats, who are dispirited and less motivated to bother voting, according to polls, which Republicans have led for months.

Obama plans a multistate swing out west this month to help Nevada’s Harry Reid, California’s Barbara Boxer and Washington’s Patty Murray, all embattled incumbent Democratic senators.

In recent days Obama has traveled to Delaware to help Chris Coons, who’s supposed to be annihilating Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, to Cleveland and Columbus for Gov. Ted Strickland and House candidates and to Boston for incumbent Gov. Deval Patrick. There, an angry Obama encountered hecklers over his gay rights actions, or lack of same (see photo above).

He’s already been to Pennsylvania to help Joe Sestak, who beat Arlen Specter in the primaries but now trails the GOP’s Pat Toomey, and to Florida where Democrat Kendrick Meek trails both independent Charlie Crist and Republican Marco Rubio in the open Senate race.

The encouraging Nov. 2 outlook for Republicans is a rare perfect storm of events: a president’s first midterm election, always tough except for George W. Bush, combined with a stubbornly sour economy and unemployment rate despite promises to the contrary, and recent Democrat successes, which gave them whopping congressional majorities.

Now, those several dozen Democrats who won marginal districts in 2006 and 2008 have supported unpopular Obama legislation and face extinction; many have taken to running against the president, his policies and even Pelosi.

Can Democrats still salvage the election? Gallup’s historical numbers indicate they might reduce their losses but not eliminate them. In 2006, a 23-point Democrat generic congressional lead in early October dwindled by election day to 11- and 7-point leads among registered and likely voters. But the party still won back both houses.

In 1994 in Bill Clinton’s first midterm elections, when the GOP seized control of both houses for the first time in four decades, Republicans led among registered by three points and by 12 points among likely voters in mid-October. On election day, the parties were tied among the registered and the GOP led by seven among likely voters. But both houses still flipped.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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