Guest Pollster | October 29, 2006
Topics: 2006 , The 2006 Race
[Democratic Pollster Mark Mellman posted a comment here on Friday in response to the final installment of my three part series on the national data on the race to control Congress. It was structured around a metaphor Mellman has used to characterize the Democrats chances on November 7:
There's a big anti-Republican wave out there. But that wave will crash up against a very stable political structure, so we won't be sure of the exact scope of Democratic gains until election night. We really don't yet know which is ultimately more important -- the size of the wave or the stability of the structure.
Since not all readers browse the comments, I am promoting Mellman's remarks as a contribution to our Guest Pollster Corner section].
When I talk about stability I have a couple of other factors in mind in addition to incumbency advantages. As I noted in my original Hill article last March....
One measure of political instability: the number of Republicans holding seats that vote Democratic for president and vice versa. When big political waves hit, that is precisely where much of the action is. In the two prior presidential elections, Bush (the father) or Reagan had won 30 of the 34 seats Democratic incumbents lost in 1994. Similarly, two-thirds of the Republican incumbents who lost in 1882 were running in districts presidential Democrats had won just previously.
Today, though, there are fewer mismatched seats than at any point in recent history. Going into 1994, 53 Democrats held seats won by Bush in 1992. Today just 18 Republicans hold seats won by Kerry. So, while forces in the political environment push strongly in a Democratic direction, they are acting on a relatively stable structure: Hence the test.