"A Scenario Where Democrats Don't Lose the House"

Just a few weeks ago, Charlie Cook said that it's "very hard to come up with a scenario where Democrats don't lose the House." The quote may seem familiar; I have referenced it a couple times in recent days.

If Cook is still looking for such a scenario, the respected pollster Ipsos, surveying the country for McClatchy newspapers, has provided it:

Looking ahead to November's elections, 50 percent said they'd vote for Democratic candidates if the election were today, while 40 percent said they'd vote for Republicans.

The Democrats' 10-point generic ballot lead in the Ipsos-McClatchy poll represents a net improvement of 3 percentage points since early November, a move within the survey's margin of error.

It is worth noting that these numbers do not look like the latest trend estimate from Pollster.com, which actually gives the GOP a narrow 43.0 percent to 42.4 percent lead in a nationwide race for Congress. However, that narrow Republican advantage is the result of the plethora of data from a single pollster: Rasmussen Reports. When these surveys are excluded, the numbers shift more than 6 points towards the Democrats, with a Democratic edge of 47.1 percent to 41.5 percent.

So there definitely is a universe in which it is "very hard to come up with a scenario where Democrats don't lose the House": that of Rasmussen polling. And that may be the reality on the ground come November. But in the reality represented by the composite of all other polling, including this latest Ipsos survey, the Democrats' goose is not nearly cooked.

Tags: House 2010, Generic Congressional Ballot, polling, charlie cook (all tags)



Add to that

The Dems are probably at a low point right now.  Pass HCR with some meaningful help for folks and let the unemployment numbers even inch down a point, and things look even better.

by mjshep 2010-03-03 11:23PM | 0 recs
The wind does seem to be in their sails

That wind could change, and the MSM is not going to give up their democrats are doomed theme willingly. But from the WH to the Legislature, it seems that lessons have been learned, and that we're making headway now.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-03-03 11:52PM | 0 recs
RE: The wind does seem to be in their sails

We'll see. No one squanders an opportunity quite as well as a Democrat.

by the mollusk 2010-03-04 01:27AM | 0 recs
True that

It took Scott Brown just to rowse them to this point...

by NoFortunateSon 2010-03-04 02:58AM | 0 recs
RE: The wind does seem to be in their sails

It's not just the MSM pushing the theme.

by vecky 2010-03-04 03:17AM | 0 recs
RE: The wind does seem to be in their sails

You're right.  I probably shouldn't be so cynical.  But it seems like the Repubs are in the midst of badly overplaying their hand and the Dems don't seem to be capitalizing on it.  I'll concede that Democratic strategists are probably a lot smarter than me about these things.  Then again, one of these geniuses decided to have John Kerry come out and say "Reporting for duuuuuty!" in the 2004 Convention.  Even I could tell that was a mistake.

by the mollusk 2010-03-04 10:56AM | 1 recs
2nd Not a personal right until recently

I don't really understand the issue.

Until recently, the 2nd Amendment wasn't considered a personal right at all, as the "Right to bear arms" was only recognized in connection with ensuring a well-ordered militia.

If it wasn't a personal right, how could one use PorI clause to extend incorporate it to the states?


by Searching For Pericles 2010-03-03 11:31PM | 0 recs
not convinced

Seems a bit of a stretch.

First off, Ipsos is a poll of all Americans. Rasmussen is polling the likely voter universe.

Second, simplistic in that its going to come down to individual CD's and not a national poll to decide control.

I thought Chris Cillizza summed it up pretty well:

The political import of New York Democratic Rep. Eric Massa's surprising retirement on Wednesday was largely eclipsed by the controversy surrounding why he decided to depart Congress after a single term. It shouldn't be. Massa is the seventh House Democrat leaving a seat that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won in 2008. That means that 43 percent of the Democratic retirements in the House so far in this election have come in McCain districts. It also means that 14 percent of the 49 Democratic members who hold McCain districts are retiring this fall. (Here's the full list of Democratic-held districts that McCain won.) In addition to the seven McCain districts that are now open seats, there are two others -- Kansas' 3rd and Washington's 3rd -- where Obama won with 51 percent and 53 percent, respectively, of the vote in 2008. (All told, those nine districts gave McCain an average of 54 percent.) Conventional wisdom has suggested that if Democrats have to defend 10 or more seats either won by McCain or narrowly carried by Obama that their majority status might be legitimately in danger. "We're in the [danger] zone," said Charlie Cook, a political handicapper and former Fix boss. "The open seats are a problem but [Democrats] have lots of problems." Remember, too, that filing deadlines have passed in only eight states. The next month, which includes filing deadlines in places like California (March 12), Iowa (March 19) and Missouri (March 30), will be critical in determining just how bad it is going to get for Democrats this fall.

The wind may well turn to favor the Dems later this year --I'm hoping that by Aug/Sept-- , but right now, it does not.

What's going to really decided it is how well Republicans do in recruiting, which I don't have the time to figure out at the moment :)

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-03-04 09:48AM | 0 recs
RE: not convinced

No one knows exactly what Rasmussen is polling, and Nate Silver has had several threads to that effect in trying to understand what is called the "Rasmussen House Effect" in the polling community.

We DO know the inclusion of his poll results are significantly affecting averages like Pollster's and RCP's.  We DO know Rasmussen results do not match up well statisitically with the results of any pollster -  and always, always, Rasmussen skews in the GOP's favor.

by dembluestates 2010-03-04 12:24PM | 0 recs
RE: not convinced

Well, here's the other thing we know-- Rasmussen has been a pretty reliable indicator in their polls of the final result, right?

Now, I do agree with Nate and the "House" effect; it certainly seems to break down that way. But still, Rasmussen has a polling history of results, so I'm not sure what the point is of having an effect, if the actualy result hasn't been found out of bounds?

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-03-04 01:01PM | 0 recs
RE: not convinced

Rasmussen polls are pretty good within a couple of months of the election, but this far out they tend to tilt pretty heavily toward the Republicans.  Back in 2008, in their January through March generic house ballot polls, Rasmussen showed Dems up by 4 or 5 at a time when Gallup and the Wall Street Journal poll was showing Democrats up by 13-15.  The difference disappeared gradually in April and May and by June they were right at the average of other pollsters.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the pattern repeat itself this year, with Rasmussen tilting Republican significantly over the first three months of the year, then gradually coming into line with the rest of the results.

by PonyFan 2010-03-04 01:44PM | 0 recs
RE: not convinced

Just thinking back over the past few election in 2010 and 2009, I don't think Rasmussen polled anything out of the ordinary of what actually happened.

I remember 2008 though, and your point is correct. They went through a change in their likely voter method finally, but it took a while.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-03-04 02:29PM | 0 recs
RE: not convinced

I agree with your hesitation at accepting the Ipsos poll because it is of all Americans instead of registered voters.  However, Rasmussen's use of "likely voters" is just as suspect at this point.  Likely voter screens don't work well 8 months from an election, and most pollsters won't switch to them until 3 months or so before the election.  Gallup says that their likely voter model is only proven to work in the last poll before an election, and I have a hard time believing that Rasmussen's is better than Gallup's.  Basically, a "likely voter" screen now is meaningless.

The best course to take right now is to throw out both "all American" polls and "Likely Voter" polls, and go with the "registered voter" model.  I've done that using pollster.com's graphs, and it gives you a tied generic ballot.

As I said in my other comment, Rasmussen's Generic House Ballot results were radically out of line with those of other pollsters at the beginning of 2008, just as they are right now.  In that case, Rasmussen's numbers gradually changed to match those of other pollsters; the results from Gallup (other than one freak poll that actually showed Republicans ahead) and WSJ didn't change much over that time. 

It will be interesting to see if Rasmussen follows the same pattern this time.  If he is showing a tied or nearly tied generic House ballot by June, then I would be inclined to guess there is a large house effect at the beginning of election years that disappears as we get closer to the election.

by PonyFan 2010-03-04 01:54PM | 0 recs
RE: not convinced

I'd go with the RV method too at this point; and a tied result probably favors the Republicans a bit, but its a bit obscure to me. I want to look at it seat by seat, and hope to have the time to put together such a chart at some time in the future!

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-03-04 02:34PM | 0 recs
another somewhat encouraging take

by Chris Bowers at Open Left:


Eric Massa's retirement is not helpful to the overall electoral picture for Democrats.  However, a close look at national polling, and the now 36 open House seats, shows that Republicans still need to defeat a minimum of 33 incumbents to win control of the House in 2010.
Defeating 33 incumbents is virtually impossible.  In 2006 and 2008, Democrats won the national popular vote by 6.49% and 8.65% respectively.  Despite this, they still only defeated 37 Republican incumbents in those two years combined.   With Republicans nowhere close to that level of strength in the generic congressional ballot, it is still more likely than not that Democrats will retain control of the House.

by desmoinesdem 2010-03-04 11:00AM | 0 recs
RE: another somewhat encouraging take

Forgot to add that the NRCC is still cash-poor compared to the DCCC, which will make defeating large numbers of Dem incumbents more difficult.

by desmoinesdem 2010-03-04 11:01AM | 0 recs
RE: another somewhat encouraging take

The problem seems to me that Cook and the rest of the prognosticators have just gotten way ahead of themselves compared with when they would usually predict results in the cycle. Charlie mentioned that he waited until August in 2006, to say he saw the wave, and he's doing this in February, where it involves twice as many seats!

We don't even know who the Republican candidates are in many of these races, due to primaries, and as you state, the funding question remains open. It's going to be at least July or August until an accurate first take can be made, but thats even open to a change.

The lists that folks start making, of who is going down, to get those 33 Dems defeated, will be interesting. Right now, I haven't seen anyone generate such a list, though it might be out there...

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-03-04 01:12PM | 1 recs
by desmoinesdem 2010-03-04 03:25PM | 0 recs
RE: another somewhat encouraging take

I had seen that, but its more of a CD list than an actual analysis of candidate vs candidate, with a look at money and other factors, which we really can't do yet.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-03-04 06:31PM | 0 recs
RE: another somewhat encouraging take

You hit the nail on the head here. I'm not particularly optimistic about Democrats' hopes in November. I don't think Ds are going to win seats. But it's just ridiculous to say that they have effectively already lost the House 8 months out. I just don't get how a responsible analyst could claim such a thing.

by Jonathan Singer 2010-03-04 07:36PM | 0 recs
RE: another somewhat encouraging take

Cook was quick to defend himself in the another thread but has yet to comment here. Maybe because his statement can't be defended or even explained. It astounds me that he's not just suggesting that the House could flip, as he has in past cycles, but that it's such a high probability that he can't imagine it not happening!  In order for that to happen, the GOP would have to pick up about 80% of the seats he himself lists as Toss-Up AND Leans Democratic.  So not only would the Bobby Brights and Walt Minnicks have to lose, but also would people like Giffords, Salazar, Skelton, Adler, Biship, Hall, Arcuri, Kissell, Pomeroy, Space, Murphy, Spratt, Edwards, Boucher, Mollohan, Kagen, etc., etc.  Basically, a hell of a lot of Dems who are probably reasonably safe would have to lose. That's a lot to ask for in one cycle, despite all he and Scott Rasmussen are doing to shape the narrative.  I honestly think he just wants to be the first to call it.  For many in the media, being the first is more important than being the most accurate.

by bpfish 2010-03-09 05:23PM | 0 recs


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