A Beltway Guy and close watcher of these things, highlights:
The reported dem “tidal wave” seems to have abated over the last two weeks according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released today. The numbers have improved for Republicans across the board. Support for Iraq is up as well. In particular, there was an eight-point increase in the generic Congressional candidate, which party do you trust on Iraq, and was the war in Iraq worth it questions. In other words, despite the blanket media coverage of violence in Iraq over the past two weeks, support for the effort there actually grew—and with it, support for Republicans. Right track/wrong track and values questions show a similar favorable increase for Republicans.
For example, since the last poll two weeks ago (10/22/06):
Presidential approval ratings
Among registered voters, the President’s favorables rose to 43 (up from 40).
Generic Congressional candidate poll
Among likely voters, this poll has tightened from a dem advantage among likely voters of 14 points (55-41) down to six points (51-45)—an eight-point swing over the past two weeks—the tightest margin listed for this year.
Right track/wrong track
This has also shown significant improvement. Two weeks ago, the numbers were 32-66; this week they improved to 39-59. Still not great, but the deficit between the two shrunk from 34 down to 20.
Which party do you trust to do a better job of handling Iraq?
This number is now tied at 42. Republicans have led only once in this poll in the last two years; dems led by 8 points (48-40) in the last poll, another eight-point swing mirroring the increase in support in the generic poll.
Which party better represents your values?
This question is another where the dem lead has contracted. Dems are currently favored at 48-44. This four-point margin is down significantly from their 16-point lead (53-37) in early October.
Do you think the Democrats are or are not offering the country a clear direction that’s different from the Republicans?
The yes-no margin tightened here as well. This went from 52-44 down to 49-47. In other words, only a minority now believe that the dems are offering a “clear direction” on Iraq.
Was the war in Iraq worth fighting?
This number has shown significant improvement over the past two weeks, despite considerable violence (and its attendant media coverage). The worth it/not worth it numbers are at 44-53 (-9), but up from 40/57 (-17) among registered voters. This is yet another eight-point swing. And it has improved significantly from a month ago (again, despite the increase in violence during that period) from 35-63 (-28!).
Did the President tell the truth about Iraq
For the first time in 20 months, a majority (51-47) report the Bush administration “told the American people what it believed to be true” in making the case for war with Iraq. This ratio improved from 46-52 (-6) in May.
Congressional approval ratings
Though still not great, favorables improved from 31 to 36 over the past two weeks.
More people were contacted on behalf of Republican candidates (29 percent) than dems (20 percent). Forty one percent had heard from both.
(Methodology: This Washington Post-ABC News poll was conducted by telephone November 1-4, 2006, among a random national sample of 1,205 adults. Full results are available here .)