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Thursday, November 02, 2006

GOP Message Not Sinking In

Good news from today's New York Times poll.  It looks like America isn't the bastion of conservatism that Fox News likes to think it is...

On Bush's handling of Iraq:

29 percent of Americans approve of the way President Bush is managing the war, matching the lowest mark of his presidency. Nearly 70 percent said Mr. Bush did not have a plan to end the war, and 80 percent said Mr. Bush's latest effort to rally public support for the conflict amounted to a change in language but not policy.

On Congress:

Among registered voters, 33 percent said they planned to support Republicans, and 52 percent said they would vote for Democrats

That's a 19 point advantage -- one of the highest for either party in recent history.

On terrorism:

By a slight margin, more respondents said the threat of terrorism would increase under Republicans than said it would increase under Democrats.

And by a two-to-one margin, more people thought our involvement in Iraq made the threat of terrorism worse.

Other poll bites:

* Economy — By a 22% margin, Americans believe the economy is getting worse, not better.

* Same-sex marriage — A surprisingly-high majority now believe same-sex relationships should be made legal. According to the poll, 28% of Americans support gay marriage, while 29% support civil unions. Combined, that's 57% of the country.

* Political independents — Unaffiliated voters are breaking the Dems' way big time. 23% of independents said they plan to vote for Republicans on Tuesday, while 50% prefer Dems.  [This dovetails nicely with a Rasmusson Reports poll, which says that "the number of people identifying themselves as Republicans has fallen to its lowest level since we began reporting this measure of partisan trends in January 2004."]

* Issues — Poll respondents said they thought a Democratic-led Congress would be more likely to increase the minimum wage, hold down rapidly rising health and prescription drug costs, and improve the economy.

There's also more good poll news from Reuters:

Democrats must gain six seats in Tuesday's election to win U.S. Senate control, and they lead in six of the seven most vulnerable Republican-held states, according to Reuters/Zogby polls released on Thursday.

Democrats lead Republican incumbents in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Montana, Virginia and Rhode Island, but only the Rhode Island and Pennsylvania races are outside the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Zogby's latest poll provides further confirmation that Missouri and Virginia have been trending in the right direction.

The Democrats taking the Senate was a pie-in-the-sky dream just four weeks ago.  Now, it is clearly within reach.  And Democrats taking over the House -- well, that's all but a done deal.

With these figures in mind, I think I might vote today.

UPDATE:  The Crystal Ball is a website operated by Prof. Larry Sabato of the U.Va Center for Politics.

He finds the following:

Just how Democratic a year is 2006?

Five days out, let's rephrase the question this way: when's the last time a major political party has failed to capture a single House seat, Senate seat, or governorship of the opposing party in a federal election year?

We bet it's never happened before, and it certainly hasn't happened in the post-World War II era. After all, even when a party suffers miserable net losses, it usually picks up at least several consolation prizes in the form of open seat pickups or an against-the-tide incumbent defeat.

Yet look at our 2006 predictions: at this moment, the Crystal Ball cannot identify a single election for Senate, House or Governor in which a Republican is likely to succeed a Democrat in office. Just imagine how devastating an absolute shutout would be in the eyes of history if this proves to be true!

Sure, we could easily be fooled by more than a few outcomes in this regard on Election Night, and we would probably place the odds of this historical unlikelihood's occurrence at no better than 50/50. But the very notion such a scenario is within the realm of possibilities is a testament to the lopsidedness of this year's theaters of battle.

If little changes between now and Tuesday, there remains little question that the GOP is headed towards devastating losses. And though candidates continue to stress various issues, only one has truly come to define our politics this year: war. Future historians may well look back on this wave election as "The Iraq Midterm," much we look back on the 1966 and 1974 elections as "The Vietnam Midterm" and "The Watergate Midterm" respectively.

...if history is any guide, a handful will have scored fluke victories with under-the-radar, last-minute momentum. Wave elections are volatile, and in our years of publishing, we have never gazed into a stormier Crystal Ball.

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