This is an excerpt from an article written by one of those people described as a “veteran Washington observer”–in this case, Charles Cook, who has his own independent, nonpartisan newsletter about national politics. The following observations are from his weekly column in the National Journal that was published today (Saturday). I have added the bold facing.
Strong signs point toward a Democratic bonanza.
• Voters are clearly still very upset with Republicans and don’t seem to have finished venting their spleens. In a May 13-15 national survey of 1,014 likely voters by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg for the Democracy Corps, Democrats held a 14-point (54 percent to 40 percent) lead on the generic congressional ballot test. When told the likely nominees in a given district, voters still gave Democrats a 10-point advantage, 52 percent to 42 percent. These results are consistent with those from other national polls.
• Antipathy toward Bush has not abated. Indeed, in both this Democracy Corps survey and a recent National Public Radio poll conducted by Greenberg and Republican pollster Glen Bolger, the president’s “strong disapproval” rating exceeded 50 percent, a jaw-dropping level of animosity.
• Although Congress has a terrible job-approval rating, this election isn’t about it, at least so far.
• On the micro level, things look awful for the GOP. Five Republican senators are retiring while zero Democratic senators are. On the House side, 27 Republicans are leaving voluntarily compared with just eight Democrats. Meanwhile, Democratic House and Senate campaign committees are out-raising their GOP counterparts by astounding margins, meaning that Democrats will be able to pump a ton of money into far more races than the Republicans will.
The GOP’s three consecutive special-election losses in heavily Republican districts have been enough to terrify Republican lawmakers on the House side of the Capitol. The fact that eight GOP Senate incumbents are in danger while only one Democratic senator is in any jeopardy, and that former Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, a Democrat, has run 8 points ahead of appointed Republican Sen. Roger Wicker in back-to-back polls, should be enough to scare those Republican lawmakers on the Senate side as well.
In short, Republicans might get walloped again in November. The indications that they will are getting stronger and stronger. And the arguments that they won’t are getting weaker and weaker.
In addition, politicalwire.com (one of my favorite web sites) obtained a copy of a memo from Republican pollster David Johnson of Strategic Vision and GOP fundraiser Holly Robichaud to the House Republican Leadership. The memo explores the reasons that the Republican brand is at such a low standing:
* Democrats have successfully equated President Bush with the word Republican very much as the Democrats did with Herbert Hoover and the Republican Party.
* [U]nless House Republican leaders visibly break from the President, the Party will be in the minority for the next ten years and could lose between twenty to thirty House seats.
I looked for some good news for Republicans in the national polls, and in fact there is a lot to be found–so much, in fact, that politico.com has a story today in which Republican strategists say that they believe that McCain’s margin of victory in November could be as high as 50 electoral votes, surpassing Bush’s 35-vote victory in 2004. In early polling McCain is doing very well versus Obama in swing states: +6 in Nevada, +5 in Florida, +8 in Virginia, +3 in New Hampshire.
These polls don’t mean much. More than any other presidential race I can remember, both candidates enter the race with high negatives. Obama balances his negatives with the intensity of his support, which is something McCain won’t be able to generate. Perhaps the closest analogy is Carter-Reagan, 1980, when the incumbent was carrying a lot of baggage and the challenger was unproven but had an enthusiastic following. Then as now, the race seemed to occur at a time when the tides of politics were shifting away from the party that occupied the White House toward the other party. It is going to be a brutal campaign.