The Corner

The Coattails Question

Everyone knows the Republican convention and subsequent events have given John McCain a significant boost in the polls. When the Democratic convention ended he was down by 8 points in the Gallup daily tracking poll, and now he’s up by four. Today’s Rasmussen numbers give him the largest lead he’s had in their polling since Obama clinched the Democratic nomination in May (though it’s still awfully tight of course).

Less noticed has been the change in the congressional numbers. For over a year, the Democrats had held a double digit lead in Gallup’s generic congressional polling (“if the elections for congress were held today, which party’s candidate would you vote for in your congressional district?”)  Just last month, the Democrats were leading by eleven points among registered voters—51 percent to 40. But in this week’s poll, as Jim Geraghty notes, the Democrats’ lead is down to three points among registered voters (48 to 45) and among likely voters the Republicans are actually leading by five points (50 to 45).

Gallup’s analysis argues that “if these numbers are sustained through Election Day — a big if — Republicans could be expected to regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives.” I think that over-reads the significance of the generic congressional numbers, which don’t actually align closely enough with final district by district results to make such a flat assertion. We’d need to see a lot more local polling in the next few weeks. But the trend is unmistakable, and is also evident in the RealClearPolitics tracking of this question, which has also gone from double digit Democratic leads to a very narrow spread. Race by race, it could still be a fairly rough year for Republicans in Congress, but if something like this trend holds, it certainly wouldn’t be nearly as rough as everyone thought just a few weeks ago.

Yuval Levin — Yuval Levin is the editor of National Affairs and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Most Popular

Film & TV

A Right-Wing Halloween

‘The world is not a dark and evil place,” insists an exasperated woman played by Judy Greer in Halloween. “It’s full of love and understanding!” I put the question to the class: Is she right? In the new film (not a reboot but a sequel that occurs 40 years after the events in the 1978 original and ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Blackface Party

I must have missed something: Was there some kind of all-hands white-people meeting at which we voted to kick the Democrats out? Elizabeth Warren, Rachel Dolezal, Beto O’Rourke — what’s up with all the ethnic play-acting? Isn’t cultural appropriation supposed to be a bad thing among progressives? Isn’t ... Read More
Elections

The State of the Race for the House

Way back in January, I went through the then-34 seats where a Republican incumbent was retiring and concluded that most were in deeply red districts and not likely to flip to Democrats. Pollsters and media organizations are less inclined to conduct surveys of House races, both because there’s less public ... Read More