Republicans have been talking for months as if at least a partial takeover of Congress is a virtual certainty, but a new survey and analysis released by Democracy Corps today not only shows the election tightening, but also a growing possibility that Republicans may yet snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
The Democracy Corps survey showed a 6 point movement towards the Democrats. This is in line with the recently released NBC News/Wall Street Journal and ABC News/Washington Post poll which both revealed a movement towards the Democrats. As they pointed out in their analysis, there is recent historical precedent for elections shifting in the final month, “This is not a fool’s errand. In the 1998 election, we conducted national polls starting in September to see if Democrats could push back against the Republican overreach on Ken Starr and impeachment, as Democrats faced the prospect of historic losses in both the House and Senate. Only two weeks before the election did the plates shift and a Democratic counter-message on impeachment became effective in our polls. In the end, Democrats lost no net seats in Senate, gained five House seats and Newt Gingrich resigned.”
However they also cautioned that the political climate is still terrible for Democrats as 60% of those surveyed believe the country is on the wrong track, and President Obama’s disapproval rating is stuck at 52%. It is clear that Democrats are making gains as we head towards November. The Republican lead has dropped by 4% on the generic ballot. Democrats have made strong gains with women under age 50 (+ 9 points), unmarried women (+ 8 points), in the Western and Northeast parts of the country, (+7 points), and surprisingly with seniors and older women (+6 points).
Democracy Corps suggested that Democrats hammer home two message in the run up to Election Day. The first focuses on the middle class, and “changing Washington to work for the middle class and American jobs, not corporations and Wall Street. It is strengthened by attacks on Social Security and Medicare, critical for the middle class.”
The second hits Republicans on outsourcing and jobs, “made in America, creating American jobs and opposing Republicans who support trade agreements and tax breaks for companies that export American jobs.” Some may be surprised to senior citizens returning to the Democratic Party, after the way they supported John McCain in 2008, but they shouldn’t be. Republicans, especially the Tea Party Republicans running for Senate, made a colossal blunder when they openly talked about privatizing or doing away with entitlement programs for seniors like Medicare and Social Security.
If there is there is one issue that might be giving women pause about voting Republican, more than any other, it might be choice. Sarah Jones recently detailed the GOP’s war against a woman’s right to choose. There are women on both sides of the abortion issue, but the radical position of no abortion, no exceptions of the 2010 crop of GOP candidates, undoubtedly caught the attention of many pro choice women, who might have been disinterested and ready to sit this election out.
The one thing that keeps candidates and campaign managers up all night is the dreaded October Surprise. Sometimes the surprise is an earth shaking revelation about a candidate that destroys a campaign and turns a race upside down. Other times it is an unexpected electoral shift that turns a bleak forecast for a candidate or party into an unexpected victory. If the electorate shifts and the Democrats maintain their majorities, it will be remarkable turn around, but not necessarily a surprising one, due to the fact that the GOP is running a slate of candidates that is too far right for the majority of America.
The Republicans have tried mightily to push their controversial candidates underground by using a national media blackout strategy, but in the day and age of the Internet, nothing can stay hidden for very long. From talk of John Boehner measuring the drapes in Pelosi’s office to Joe Miller’s future colleagues tweets, Republicans sure seem to be getting overconfident, but while the polls are tightening, they keep celebrating, and the Democrats’ October Surprise is catching up to them.