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July 20, 2010 05:34 PM UTC

Gallup's Generic Ballot Trends Democrat, Independents Lead Way

  • by: Colorado Pols

Considering the fever pitch the GOP has been at for months now, in hope of irretrievably poisoning the critical independent bloc of voters against Democratic candidates and making big gains in the upcoming election, this memo from respected polling firm Gallup isn’t a good sign–especially in Colorado, where unaffiliated voters are if anything more decisive than in many other states.

In the same week the U.S. Senate passed a major financial reform bill touted as reining in Wall Street, Democrats pulled ahead of Republicans, 49% to 43%, in voters’ generic ballot preferences for the 2010 congressional elections.

The Democrats’ six-point advantage in Gallup Daily interviewing from July 12-18 represents the first statistically significant lead for that party’s candidates since Gallup began weekly tracking of this measure in March…

With Republicans’ and Democrats’ support for their own party’s candidates holding steady in the low 90s this past week, independents are primarily responsible for Democrats’ improved positioning. Thirty-nine percent of independents favor the Democratic candidate in their district, up from 34% — although slightly more, 43%, still favor the Republican.

Democrats understand that these numbers are volatile, and tied to action in Congress as well as the news of the day in general. Still, it’s definitely trending the right way to mitigate widely-anticipated Democratic losses this November. As for why this is happening, Gallup points to the recent passage of financial industry reforms that were favored by solid majorities of voters.

It’s our opinion that growing fatigue over the GOP’s nonstop campaign of denunciation and hyperbolic invective against Democrats is also reflected in these shifting numbers, but it doesn’t look like Gallup explored that. We’ve said repeatedly that at some point before November, voters would take a more rational look at the last year and a half, and realize that they are neither being forced to move to a commune nor to pull the plug on Grandma after all.

The more rational the debate becomes between now and November, the more likely it becomes that these trend lines will hold–exactly what Democrats want, and what Republicans do not. A rational debate will not look favorably upon, for example, Colorado Senate candidates trying to one-up each other agreeing with Tom Tancredo that Obama is a bigger threat than nuclear war.

That’s our theory, anyway. What do you think?


54 thoughts on “Gallup’s Generic Ballot Trends Democrat, Independents Lead Way

  1. The Republicans.

    Polls throughout the year have consistently shown the public dislikes the Republican Party more than the Democrats.  As noted, Independents will again control the election.  They’ll begin to pay attention after Labor Day.  And, they’ll realize that in Colorado their choice will be between pragmatic Democrats who are making the tough decisions to balance the state budget and bring the nation out of a deep recession versus Republicans who have embraced the Tea Party (aka, conservative Republicans) and its extreme agenda.

    Fortunately, compared to the Republicans, the Democratic primary for the US Senate has been tame and not overly divisive.  Most everyone on this site has indicated their support for the Democratic primary victor.  The Republican Senate candidates, on the other hand, are trying desparately to “out-Right” each other and that will not help in the general election.

    Following the best week for Colorado Democrats as McInnis and Maes imploded, I predict the general election to also bode well for the party.

    1. Those of us on the outside looking in at this conservative fuster-cluck are left wondering, “What the hell are you doing?!”

      Since conservatives are failing to govern each other within their own circles, what makes the rest of us think they’d do any better governing the country?

  2. that’s what generic polling doesn’t take into account.  This is a good sign for democrats, but of course if democratic candidate X has whatever negatives, these go right out the door.

    It’s an interesting note on national trending, but in a place like Colorado, where a third of voters are unaffiliated, people will often decide on personality and other “individual” qualities.  Might they be more inclined to like the generic democrat to start with?  Sure.  That only goes so far though.

  3. What in the world could be the cause of it – the financial reform law?

    The Dems haven’t had any good news to precipitate something like this.  We’ll see.

    1. like unemployment benefits; lining up to vote against a Supreme Court nominee most of them just voted to confirm a year ago; apologizing to BP. Along with putting forward candidates that are competing to outdo each other with the crazy.

        1. GOP – “We need to provide extra funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

          DEM – “Well, for what? For example, what about the fraud and waste with contractors?”


          It is a shorter cartoon….

          1. I’m ‘image guy’ today, I guess.  

            Honestly, the amount of money that’s been spent since Obama was inaugurated makes everything else pale in comparison, and it’s brought us nothing.  “Saved or created” jobs?

            Come on.

                1. 1. Iraq War spending. Only under Obama has such spending been responsibly reflected in budget and accounting. GWB tried to hide it.

                  2. TARP. I’ll bet you have all the TARP money commitments under Obama’s column instead of Bush’s.

                  PS: I find it a little hard to believe that with both the Vietnam War AND the Great Society (welfare!), Lyndon Johnson’s ratio wasn’t higher than 0.9%.

                  Lies, damn lies, and statistics…

                  1. So you still support Ronald Reagan? Even though by your chart he was the biggest deficit spender in modern times – apparently over ALL 8 OF HIS YEARS – until the current president – and of course your chart only shows his first 18 months…

                    And another thing…

                    By your own chart, with the sole exception of Nixon, all the Democratic presidents were better at keeping deficit spending lower than the Republicans!

                    So why exactly should we trust the Republican presidents to reduce our deficits?

                    1. Barack Obama’s “Absolutely Uncanny” Similarity To Ronald Reagan

                      President Obama’s steep decline in popularity since taking office should be distressing for Democrats, but at least from a historical standpoint — and if past is precedent — he can be compared to one looming American political figure: Ronald Reagan.

                      It is a comparison sure to send conservatives, many of whom idolize Reagan and abhor Obama’s policies, running for the hills. It will likewise unsettle a good number of Democrats still frustrated by Reagan’s policies.

                      But placed together on a graph the two men’s approval ratings snake and jut downwards like a helix, from almost identical starting points, with approval in the high 60s, down to about 50 percent in the first year and a half. (Spoiler Alert: Reagan’s popularity continued down to a low of 42 percent and Republicans lost 26 seats in the House of Representatives after two years of the Reagan presidency. Many political experts predict even stiffer losses for Democrats in November.)


                      Was that LB I hear shrieking?

                2. imposed over this showing the general state of the economy would show (not sure of the measurement) plotted at the start of each term.  Nothing good for W. anyhow, my economic history is a bit fuzzy further back than that (and I would have to consider the best metric for measurement).  

                  Certainly Obama stepped into the biggest mess in a long time.  This graph is remarkable for the information it doesn’t show.  Nice graphic though LB, you can dig those up with impressive regularity.  

                3. If the deficit spending numbers are based on the budget, then Bush’s deficit is way undercounted because of his off-the-books wars.  Do you know whether the expenses for the two Bush wars are included in his numbers, or were they just counted after Obama put the wars back on the books?

                4. the deficit is either spiraling out of control (OH NO!) or the economy is shrinking or a combination of increased spending and a slow economy.

                  This of course has nothing to do with the record low tax rates, record deficits inherited from the Bush administration, war spending that Obama put on the books for the first time, and stimulus spending trying to ward off the economic collapse.

                  I would bet that Obama would fare poorly on such a chart if he froze all discretionary spending and cut everything but Defense.  

            1. I am looking for another chart that refutes yours but in the meantime, here is some information that will probably surprise you.


              There has been zero net job creation since December 1999. No previous decade going back to the 1940s had job growth of less than 20 percent. Economic output rose at its slowest rate of any decade since the 1930s as well.

              Follow the link for charts.

          1. Still.

            This is a cute cartoon. But most of your arguments show a cartoon-level sophistication, so I’m not surprised that you think this is “awesome!”

            (Remember – the GOP thought giving unemployment benefits was just ducky when they ran the show. IOKIYAR.”

              1. how unemployment benefits shouldn’t be extended because they coddle the unemployed?

                I guess that wasn’t testing so well with the focus groups.

              2. I mean, I get it’s the great Republican talking point but it’s also…well, wrong or disingenuous, whichever adjective you prefer so I think I’m going to have to start calling you out on it.

                On a 60-to-40 vote, the Democratic-led Senate agreed to cut off debate on the $34 billion plan to distribute added unemployment compensation through November for those who have exhausted their standard 26 weeks of aid.

                The Senate broke a stalemate on Tuesday over extending unemployment benefits for Americans who have been out of work for six months or more, voting to override Republican objections that the bill’s costs would add to the federal deficit.

                Ignore the polls at your own peril, my friend.  

    2. One data point in a poll isn’t a trend; look at the spikes Republicans had in the Gallup poll in the recent past – there, then gone.

      And considering the financial reform bill wasn’t law when the poll was done, I’d take that (and the capped oil well) out of consideration when wondering what caused the spike.

      IMHO, caroman’s got it right.  Voters are just beginning to wake up before the silly season begins, and this poll is finally translating the longstanding poll results of Republicans in Congress worse than Democrats in Congress into a possible ballot trend.

  4. First off – the poll has to show some consistency before saying that this trend is real – it has fluctuated and the current spike could be a result of the BP oil rig being capped, along with oil not washing ashore upon Florida – you can’t prevent crisis, but Obama is potentially looking effective, not incompentent

    That said – certainly, based on the data above, us Republicans are nowhere near how favorable the generic ballot was on the eve of the elections of Scott Brown and Chris Christie


    A few reasons –

    1. NEW DEMOCRATS – Andrew Romanoff is a great example of this – many Dems have retired and newer Dems have emerged, ones who didn’t vote for healthcare or the bailout (Romanoff) and can honestly run campaigns opposed to such things – in turn, the Democratic Party, at least major elements of it, has adjusted fast to what America wants

    2. ARIZONA & TEA PARTY – The Tea Parties started as anti-bailout and anti-healthcare movements – however, ever since Arizona’s immigration law passed, the priority is no longer repealing healthcare and stopping bailouts – the priority now, to a block of Conservatives, is institutionalizing Arizona immigration laws (and btw – the Arizona law is utterly racist – and America knows it)

    For reflection’s sake –

    We must remember that SCOTT BROWN and CHRIS CHRISTIE were the ORIGINAL TEA PARTY candidates that brought Republican victories to very liberal states, along with anti-Obamacare sentiment

    Sharron Angle and Rand Paul were not the original Tea Party candidates – Brown and Christie were

    With that said – Scott Brown and Chris Christie represented what the Republican Party ‘needed’ to become in order to have impossible wins – strong on fiscal issues, with promises to end bailouts and repeal healthcare, along with being SOCIALLY MODERATE

    So I ask this question – in this current environment, right now, could Scott Brown and Chris Christie truly win a Republican primary in most States?

    (think about that for a second)

    I rest my case for why our Party is not as strong

    Lastly – the Tea Party movement has forced the Party into a terrible position – either you’re for Arizona or against it – if you’re against it, you lose Conservative votes – and if you’re for it, you lose Independents

    I know pollsters will say that 60% of Latinos support the Arizona law, but 40% is still a very substantial amount of people to alienate

    However – we could win it all and I could still see Republicans winning the House and Senate – but the dream of becoming the fiscal conservative Party that doesn’t sink itself with social issues…. well… looking at most of our primary candidates… that dream is dead this year…

    1. I think you’re absolutely right that if the GOP tried being more like Scott Brown – especially working for consensus when it just plain MAKES SENSE, the GOP would be in a lot better shape than it is right now.

    2. You know that the law explicitly forbids any considerations of race. This is not just aimed at Mexicans, it is also a national security issue. It is very easy for terrorists to sneak across the border too.

        1. Patriot Act all of us, wiretap, disallow access to lawyers, don’t require FISA court search approval… and now… if the police suspect you of ‘illegalling’ you get a misdemeanor

          All this in the name of stopping terrorists?

          At what point have the terrorists won and stripped America of everything that makes it great?

          1. and secure the border, laws like these wouldn’t be necessary. It would be easy to “build the danged fence” as McCain now says, and police it with armed guards. If we can secure the entire nation of Iraq, we can secure a one-dimensional strip of land along the border.

            1. First of all, there are serious questions as to the effectiveness of the Gulag approach.

              Secondly, how ‘easy; it would be is also questionable.

              Finally, we have yet to secure the entire nation or Iraq, another mess your side left unfinished and which was ill-advised to begin with, and what we did do cost many many lives and dollars.  

          2. day Grandma had to start having her flip-flops x-rayed to catch a flight to Des Moines.

            (By the way Ali, I know I’ve been pretty jaded in some of my recent posts regarding the Foundation in so far as SM is concerned.  On this matter, and these comments, I agree with you 100%.)

      1. I presume this has been going on for 9 years.  So surely, ICE has nailed a few hundred, right?

        Any proof?  Or just more right wing political masturbation?  

      2. the border is “secure” by whatever means the conservatives deem acceptable they will be on to the next “national security” priority. And you can bet that it will somehow take away someone’s rights in what seems a very abstract way.

        Lieberman wanted to strip away citizenship on the mere suspicion of just associating with someone who is a member of a terrorist group as defined by the state department. The state department has defined groups as “terrorist groups” that have never plotted against let alone attacked the United States. Yet in the name of fighting terrorism the federal government wanted to be able to strip natural born Americans of their citizenship. This is just one example that we know of. The Patriot Act is another. Everytime we sacrifice a freedom in the name of fighting terrorist, we’ve handed those very terrorist a win.

        1. It’s the attitude with which policies are pursued which often defines their true significance. Conservativism is based on an in-group/out-group orientation, with multiple incarnations (e.g., cultural, religious, national, sexual). The policies they favor are designed to fortify the in-groups against the out-groups, and to vilify and marginalize the out-groups in the process. They favor recourse to violence over attempts at diplomacy, moral imperalism over live-and-let-live, and “Fortress America” over “give us your hungry….” Their vision of America alienates the world beyond our borders, and those not exactly like them within our borders. It is a xenophobic and chauvinistic vision of America, an ugly and hostile vision of America. There are few prospects more horrifying than that this vision of America prevails, and continues to define us.

    3. They hate their taxes, but they love them some services even more than they hate taxes.

      I wouldn’t be too surprised to see him tarred and feathered and ridden through PATH tubes on a rail.

  5. isn’t as popular as Republicans think.

    Two big national polls show clearly that majorities want unemployment benefits extended — even if it boosts deficits. Independents support this, too.

    Even with this wording, 62 percent favor extending benefits, versus only 36 percent who oppose it. Fifty-nine percent of independents favor it, too. The only group that opposes it: Republicans, 54-43.

    Gosh, that’s a shock. Republicans opposing benefits, Hoover style. Maybe the time to figure out how to pay for things should have happened when Bush waged two wars off the books while making sure the wealthy didn’t feel the ugly pinch. That 1/2 trillion dollars sure would come in handy about now, no?

    You all want to fix the deficit? Find another place to start, not on the backs of Americans who are out of jobs and trying not to lose their homes.

  6. In the past 18 months we’ve had:

    1. Financial reform.

    2. A responsible end to the Iraq conflict.

    3. A responsible (if not yet proven to be successful) strategy and leadership (General Petraeus) to win the Afghanistan war.

    4. Health care reform.

    5. A responsible stimulus package that has succeeded in preventing an all-out depression.

    6. Securing a $20 billion claim fund for oil spill damages.

    7. The well is finally capped, it seems.

    Those are all pluses for the Democrats. The negatives aren’t that easy to pin on them:

    1. No immigration reform yet. But then again, the Republicans have no rational plan of their own.

    2. The Gulf oil spill. But everyone knows it occurred due to Republican-era lack of regulatory oversight that Obama hadn’t yet fixed, and he’s done everything he can to responsibly deal with it.

    3. Deficit. But the increase in the deficit due to things like extending unemployment benefits is necessary and temporary. Every time the Republicans demand that temporary tax cuts for the rich be made permanent, they destroy their credibility as deficit-reducers.

    4. Unemployment.

    Let’s look at unemployment: “It’s the economy, stupid.” The state of the economy trumps all else. But as long as Republicans remain simply the “Party of No,” drawing up their cocktail-napkin “alternative budgets” and unable to give meaningful answers when asked what THEY would do to fix the economy if given the chance, they aren’t inspiring average Americans to hand the reins back over.

    What about the Tea Party? Although there are some disaffected Perotista types in the movement who might otherwise vote Democratic, by and large it’s a fringe phenomenon on the Republican right wing. To the extent it creates excitement to get out the vote for Republican right-wingers, that may help Republicans some, but those kinds of voters would probably be out there anyway to “take their country back” from “the Kenyan.” They’re the 2010-decade version of the John Birch Society. The danger is that the Tea Party types are sometimes so inflammatory and over-the-top that they may turn off independents.

    In 2010, all the Republicans are doing are saying “No” over and over. They seem to have forgotten that they won in 1994 because they had an at least somewhat credible “Contract with America” presented by at least somewhat credible national leaders.

    Until Republican political leaders start behaving like mature, RESPONSIBLE people with actual PLANS for governing, it’ll be hard for them to assume the mantle of leadership in the public’s mind.  

  7. MSM in the presidential and party candidate approval/ disapproval numbers is the fact that a significant chunk of both for the Dems and the President come from the left, disappointed that those they elected have not gone far enough.  

    While this will negatively impact enthusiasm and turn out for Dems it is also the case that many voters on the left registering disapproval will still turn out to vote for Dems, their fear and loathing of R policy over-riding their dismay over getting less from Dems and from the President than what they would like to see.  

    The same is true of numbers on approval/disapproval of health care reform.  A  significant chunk comes, not from people who think its a commie plot but from those who would prefer a stronger move toward the kind of universal national healthcare enjoyed by the all the world’s modern industrialized countries other that the US. It doesn’t mean they’d back repeal of what we did get.

    I don’t think this is going to be a great year for Dems but I think that the GOP tsunami being predicted may well fall a good deal short of expectations. And of course there is also the crazy tea party/GOP candidate factor helping in states like our own and Nevada.

    1. The moment the 2008 election was over, college students went back to their regular lives of not caring about politics. Unless Soros plans to dump another truckload of cash on Colorado, the Obama machine won’t re-materialize.

  8. Poll numbers up.  Just last week the local sage Pat Waak told us how joblessness has been fixed.  I bet the Dems pick up 50 seats in the house and 7 or 8 in the Senate and untold governorships. The base is energized and the Republicans are disheartened.  Hell, I just heard that the new Black Panthers Party, who are all Dems, is now outnumbering the Tea Party in Colorado.  Things could not be better.

    This must be some bad ass weed you guys are smoking.

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