Thursday, May 25, 2006

More News to Depress Republicans

Stu Rothenberg - not an analyst noted for exaggeration or piling on - sees a fall in polling for incumbents across the board - but Republicans especially. This is from Roll Call (subscription required):

Evidence Grows of Incumbent Vulnerability in House Races
May 25, 2006
By Stuart Rothenberg,
Roll Call Contributing Writer

While there is plenty of evidence that voters are dissatisfied with the president, Congress and the direction of the nation, I am finally seeing a significant amount of evidence at the local level — in polling data and in recent primary election results — that the national mood is having an impact on incumbents.

The anger has hit incumbents of both parties, but it hasn’t been distributed evenly between Republicans and Democrats. Incumbent GOPers are taking more of the heat, and they are likely to suffer far more in November.

Last week, voters in Oregon and Pennsylvania sent messages of dissatisfaction to incumbents. In Oregon, incumbent Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) won renomination with just more than 54 percent of the votes in a three-way contest. While his 25-point win over former state Treasurer Jim Hill may seem substantial, it is a sign of weakness, not strength.

In Pennsylvania, state legislators who supported a pay raise for the three branches of state government, including themselves, fell like flies in the state’s May 16 primary. But the federal race that raised eyebrows involved the 10th Congressional district, where veteran Republican Rep. Don Sherwood (who admittedly has unique problems of a personal nature) squeezed out a 56 percent to 44 percent primary win over a prohibitive underdog.

A number of early polls now suggest greater vulnerability among Republican incumbents this cycle than I had previously assumed. (Even if you don’t accept all of the numbers in all of the polls, the surveys as a whole confirm that something is going on.)

Democratic polls in Republican-held districts such as California’s 11th (Richard Pombo), Indiana’s 8th and 9th (John Hostettler and Mike Sodrel), Pennsylvania’s 10th (Sherwood), Kentucky’s 4th (Geoff Davis), and North Carolina’s 8th and 11th (Robin Hayes and Charles Taylor) show Democrats running better against GOP incumbents than they should if this were a “normal” election cycle. In some of these districts, the Democrat is essentially unknown but running well ahead of his or her name identification.

...Anzalone, who is polling for Democratic House candidates in a number of states this cycle — including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, New Jersey and Illinois — says that what is happening in North Carolina isn’t unique.

“It’s all about the environment, not the challenger,” he says. “Every Congressional poll that we have done for months has been good for Democrats and bad for Republican incumbents. Now, merely because of the environment, Democratic candidates can be at 10 percent in name ID and still be sitting in the mid-30s in [ballot tests]. That’s a huge difference from past years.”

And that’s why Republicans in 2006 are starting to look like the Democrats in 1994.

Rothenberg looks in particular at the race between lousy Redskins QB Heath Shuler and GOP incumbent Charlie Taylor. He tracks a number of polls over a period of months, showing a drop in the President's generic favorability numbers, coincident with a fall for Taylor and a rise for Shuler. There's been no campaigning and no advertising so far, so Taylor's fall seems closely tied to that of the President.

Wow! Good thing that Hastert found a great cause like protecting Bill Jefferson to boost GOP prospects, huh?

Back to the top.

No comments: