The Campaign Spot

Should Republicans Worry About Gallup’s Generic-Ballot Shift?

A few readers are worried about the Gallup poll’s most recent generic-ballot survey, showing Democrats jumping to a big lead.

One of my regulars warned me about paying too much attention to midsummer polls; with some Americans on vacation or otherwise distracted, the makeup of the samples can change a bit and pollsters can end up with some unusual results. (Then again, in an economy like this one, you might expect fewer Americans to be away on vacation in the middle of July.) Or perhaps it’s just the heat.

Looking at the other pollsters that have done recent generic-ballot surveys, the numbers aren’t that bad for the GOP, which usually trails by a significant margin: Rasmussen has the GOP up 9 (!), Fox News/Opinion Dynamics has the GOP up 4, Time has the Democrats up 1, YouGov has the Democrats up 4, Bloomberg has the Republicans up 8 (!!), Public Policy Polling has the two parties even, and ABC/The Washington Post have the Republicans up 1.

Of course, saying that the Gallup generic-ballot survey isn’t something to worry about yet isn’t the same as saying it isn’t something to worry about at some point. I’ve had nagging doubts that as the recession/economic hard times wore on, a certain segment of the electorate would revert to old habits and want the federal government to be bigger and more active to help them. That point may not be here yet, and perhaps it will never come. But it’s as foolish for Republicans to assume that November’s political atmosphere will feel like today’s as it was for the Democrats to assume November would feel like early 2009.

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