Sunday, October 31, 2010

GOP Likely to Capture Control of House

From the last pre-election survey from Pew Research, "Record Republican Engagement Drives High Turnout Forecast." The GOP leads among likely voters 48 to 42 percent on the generic ballot, but I love the discussion of Republican enthusiasm:


Many of the patterns apparent throughout the 2010 campaign remain clearly evident in its final days. First, the Republicans enjoy a substantial engagement advantage. The GOP's overall lead is only evident when the sample is narrowed to likely voters. Among all registered voters, preferences are about evenly divided -- 44% Democrat, 43% Republican.

This represents one of the largest gaps in preferences between all voters and likely voters ever recorded in Pew Research Center surveys. As was the case earlier in the campaign, this is more a consequence of unusually high engagement among Republicans than disengagement among Democrats. Since September, a growing number of Democrats say they have given a lot of thought to the election, but they still lag Republicans by a wide margin. The current levels of Democratic engagement are fairly typical for a midterm election, though they are somewhat below what they were in 2006, when the party regained control of Congress.

Second, the engagement gap notwithstanding, the Republicans owe much of their lead to strong backing from independents and other non-partisan voters. As in previous polls, likely independent voters favor GOP candidates by a wide margin -- currently, 45% to 32%. Shortly before the 2006 election, independents backed Democratic candidates by a 42%-to-35% margin.

Third, compared with 2006, the GOP has made gains among many segments of the electorate, but especially men, voters ages 65 and older, and whites. The Democrats hold substantial leads only among African Americans, younger voters, those with low family incomes, union households and the religiously unaffiliated....

In the final weeks of the campaign, there are no signs that the large engagement gap favoring the Republican Party has narrowed. Republican voters continue to be far more likely than Democrats to say they have given a lot of thought to this year's election (70% vs. 55%); more Republicans than Democrats say they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting in this year's congressional election (61% vs. 41%); and Republicans are eight points more likely to say they are following campaign news "very closely" (39% vs. 31%).

These measures suggest that overall turnout is likely to be as high this year as in the 2006 midterm elections....

On many measures, the Republican engagement in 2010 is surpassing long-term records. Fully 70% of Republicans have given a lot of thought to this election, the highest figure recorded among either Republicans or Democrats over the past five midterm election cycles. And the differential between Republicans and Democrats is larger than ever previously recorded.

Because of this large engagement gap, the likely electorate is skewed toward voting blocs that favor the GOP. While 16% of all registered voters are younger than age 30, this age group makes up only 8% of likely voters due to their lower levels of interest and commitment to voting. Similarly, lower income Americans, who tend to favor the Democrats, make up a smaller share of the likely electorate due to their lower engagement levels.
The full report is at the link. But reading this discussion, especially the data on likely turnout among young and lower-income voters, suggests that all this recent talk of a last minute Democrat surge has been heavily exaggerated. Again, I'm reminded of Democrat strategist James Carville's extreme resignation at the party's expected losses, and his hunch that sometimes the tide is so large that all the corrupt detritus of the majority gets swept out.

CNN released a new survey today as well, "
CNN Poll: Large Advantage for GOP as Election Nears." Republicans enjoy a 10-point lead among likely voters in the generic ballot, 52 to 42 percent. The CNN survey did not gauge voter enthusiasm, yet reports out tonight indicate sparse crowds for some of the days big-ticket political rallies. See, "Thin Crowd for Cleveland Campaign Rally," and "Thousands of empty seats for last Dem voter rally by Obama, Biden" (via Memeorandum).