Not only am I old enough to remember when picking Nancy Pelosi to stay on as Minority Leader doomed Democrats to never regain the majority, I’m old to even remember way back in 2005 when choosing her made it impossible for them to take it in the first place. And today:
The Democrats lead in the generic Congressional ballot by a single point, 42% to 41%, with 16% undecided—well within the survey’s margin of error. And yet the trend is unmistakable, as this represents a six-point turnaround from the Battleground survey of late October 2010, where voters supported Republicans by a five-point margin, 47% to 42%. In addition, intensity of support favors the Democrats as well, with 39% supporting a generic Democrat strongly and 37% supporting a generic Republican strongly; also a noticeable shift from last cycle when an enthusiasm gap dogged the Democrats. Now, key swing subgroups of the electorate are veering away from the Republicans. Voters in the Midwest went from R+6 in October to D+8 today. Independents, who were R+14 in our October survey and whom Republicans won nationwide by 19 points in the previous election, now support a generic Republican by just three points. Voters age 35-44 were R+8 and are now D+20. Non-college educated men have gone from supporting the Republicans by 15 points to supporting them by just eight points. Republicans are losing ground among seniors as well and fail to win majority support among them today. Seniors were R+17 in our October survey and R+21 on Election Day and are now R+10. Democrats will still need to work to get their voters out to vote. There remains an intensity gap with 80% of Republicans extremely likely to vote compared to 74% of Democrats including only 53% of young voters, 60% of Latino voters, and 61% among single voters.
It’s worth noting that the vote to end Medicare is a real gift to Democratic Party House challengers. It’s not so much that ending Medicare is an unpopular idea (though it is) as it is the fact that this gives a challengers a big big policy target to name if they want to say “sure I’m not as liberal as Barack Obama, but unlike Rep Seniorkiller over there I don’t want to leave seniors to the tender mercies of a stingy subsidy to insurance companies.”