There’s a body of research showing the relationship between early generic congressional ballot polling and outcomes of House elections. Harry Joe has run the numbers on the most up-to-date polls, and if the model based on past trends holds, Democrats can expert their worst midterm performance ever:
Conventional wisdom is that 2010 is going to be ugly for Democrats, but it’s possible that the conventional wisdom is seriously understating how bad the outlook is. It’s true that some factors, like the balance of open seats, are in the Democrats’ favor but the basic outlook is strongly tilting GOP.
I think the conventional thing to say is that this bolsters the case that Obama ought to tack to the center. I sort of see it the reverse way—there’ll be plenty of time for a mix of bipartisan policymaking and small-bore positioning once House Speaker John Boehner is the moderate and reasonable alternative to Majority Leader Cantor and Whip Pence. Time to get progressive stuff done while the window is still open.