At a press conference this afternoon, a reporter asked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to explain why such a low number of Americans (approximately 20 percent) self-identify as Republicans. McConnell responded by dodging the question, saying, “You can pick out of polls what you want to focus on.” He then proceeded to pick out a number he wanted to focus on:
I think a very interesting question of most of the polls I’ve seen in the last few months is the question of the party generic ballot. That is, if the election were held today, would you be more likely to vote for the Republican or the Democrat? Most of the surveys that I’ve seen in the last three weeks or so have us close to even.
McConnell is sadly mistaken. As The Plum Line’s Greg Sargent reports, a new Washington Post poll shows the gap between the two parties is currently as wide as it has been in the previous two elections:
Right now, the poll finds that when respondents are asked whether they will vote for a Dem or a GOPer in the 2010 elections, 51% pick the Dem and 39% pick the Republican.
In June of 2008 (the most recent historical data in the WaPo poll), Dems led the generic matchup 52%-37%. And in early November of 2006 the Dem lead was 51%-45%. Today the spread is largely unchanged.
Despite this, GOP cockiness about the midterms is widespread.
Asked whether he’s concerned about declining support for the GOP, RNC Chairman Michael Steele responded: “Not really.”