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Generic Ballot: Dem Lead Widens Post Foley

Topics: 2006 , The 2006 Race

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The post-Foley Folly polls find an upturn in the Democratic margin in the generic Congressional ballot. Prior to the Foley developments, Democrats held a 10.6 point lead in the polls. (This is the Dem percent minus the Rep percent.) That lead has now jumped to 12.8 points, the highest my trend estimate has reached in the 244 generic ballot polls taken this election cycle. This is all the more important because prior to the Foley Fiasco the trend had moved a bit down, then flattened (though still at or about 10.6, a very strong margin even then.) Whatever possible gains Republicans were beginning to make have now been wiped out.

One important concern is that CNN and Gallup produce extraordinarily high values on the generic ballot in this poll. (Remember, these are now done independently-- CNN uses Opinion Research Corporation for it's polling, while Gallup now polls for USAToday only since the dissolution of the old CNN/USAToday/Gallup partnership.) These values of over 20 points are simply implausible given the rest of the data over the past two years, and the other data from the past two weeks. Could it be that my trend estimate is being unduly influenced by these two absurd results?

No. If I exclude the latest CNN/ORC and Gallup/USAToday polls, the trend estimate is a Democratic advantage of +12.4 points, rather than the 12.8 points if these two are included. That small change in trend would still be the highest Democratic margin of the past two years, and when plotted the line without these polls is visually all but indistinguishable from the blue trend line in the figure.

And so we are back to the key question: how much will this huge (compared to elections since 1994) Democratic lead translate into seats? Will we see movement in polls for individual House races move as well? Stay tuned.

Note: This entry is cross-posted at Political Arithmetik. Typo corrected.

 

Comments
Aaron:

"These values of over 20 points are simply implausible given the rest of the data over the past two years, and the other data from the past two weeks. Could it be that my trend estimate is being unduly influenced by these two absurd results?"

Why are you so certain these results are "absurd"? I think we're really about to witness an historic electoral rout that will presage that the Republican Party is no longer a viable political party in America. I'm standing by my prediction of a 50-70 seat pickup for the Democrats.

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Charles, I wonder if you or Mark B. can get the partisan composition numbers from Gallup or ORC (i.e., percentages of respondents self-identifying as Democrats, Republicans, and Independents).

As shown on my sample-weighting website, many recent polls are showing larger than usual D-minus-R margins in their partisan breakdown.

http://www.hs.ttu.edu/hdfs3390/weighting.htm

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Alan-- We'll look into that and see if we can get anything. ALL pollsters should routine post this and their marginals for demographics as well as substantive variables. Alas, not all do. Gallup's are usually on their subscription only site, which is useful if not free. CNN has posted very complete marginals recently but they don't include the pid or other demographic results. I'll see if we can get them.

Aaron, I simply mean "absurd" in comparison to all the other data we've seen in the last two years. If other polling moves that way, then it won't be "absurd" but as long as those two polls stand so far away from the rest, I don't see why you should believe those two and ignore the vast majority. When Gallup showed a ZERO Dem margin a few weeks ago, also all by itself, that one was also "absurd" in this sense and I didn't give it much credit. If you want to believe Gallup at +23 then don't you also have to believe them at +0? I prefer to discount both results when they are far from the rest of the data.

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Gary Kilbride:

I think absurd was the same word I used in a comment yesterday, in regard to the 21 and 23 point gaps as soon as they showed up in the "Most Recent Polls" scroll.

This is why I wish we had elections every day. Just one or two per day for the last month instead of the national laundry dump on a single day. Obviously the Foley story has had widespread impact, but would it be enough to shift an individual race, and otherwise unrelated, that appeared to favor the GOP only days earlier? That would be fascinating.

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Aaron:

Charles, I did believe Gallup when they showed the congressional ballot tied. I was expecting a temporary post-9/11 bounce for the Republicans. And they got it. Now their position has eroded due to the Foley scandal. Again, not surprising.

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