The GOP and the South
by Jonathan Singer, Tue Nov 10, 2009 at 08:36:11 AM EST
Throughout the year polling from Research 2000 has consistently shown that Republican support on the generic congressional ballot question is largely limited to the South -- a finding that if borne out on election day would seriously inhibit the GOP's ability to make serious gains in next year's midterm elections (let alone retake Congress). Last week, however, McClatchy released its own numbers to the contrary, prompting me to wonder aloud if we might be able to see more data to get a sense of whether or not the GOP will be able to play outside of the South in 2010. The Economist (.pdf) has released its own numbers in the time since, too, and although the fact that their survey polled respondents via the internet (which leaves my inherently skeptical), it's nevertheless worth adding their data to the mix.
If the 2010 elections for U.S. Congress were being held today, who would you vote for in the district where you live? (leaners included)
South West Democrats 45.7 58.0 43.2 41.9 43.6 Republicans 37.1 29.6 36.3 40.9 38.0
As you can see, the polling from The Economist does show the GOP to be stronger in the South than it is elsewhere -- though not in a statistically significant way (remember that the margin of error for subgroups is much larger than the margin of error for the survey as a whole). That said, these numbers look more like those from McClatchy showing that the Republicans, while not overly popular across the country, nevertheless are earning similar support in all regions aside from the Northeast, where they have been wiped out in recent years. To put it another way, we have a bit more evidence that the Republicans' electoral support in 2010 may not in fact be limited to the South.
I'd still like to see more data on this, and hope that pollsters continue to release regional breakdowns of their generic congressional ballot questions, which although not always statistically reliable in their own right would when combined provide a clearer picture of where the battlegrounds will come in 2010. But for now I'm beginning to think it not wise for the Democrats to become overly comfortable under the belief that GOP support is by and large limited to the South.