The wave of voters who flocked to the polls and sent Reagan to the White House was so strong that it even allowed Republican Mack Mattingly to become the first Republican since Reconstruction to take a seat in the U.S. Senate representing Carter's home state of Georgia. The Senate flipped to Republican control as the intensity of voters turning out for Reagan and against Carter swept the nation. Dan Quayle took a seat in the Senate, as well, defeating longtime incumbent Democrat Birch Bayh.
And so the issue is whether the turnout model that most pollsters have been using to weight their surveys is now missing another potential surge of voters who may be poised to race to the polls in higher numbers and sweep much of what they associate with the Obama years out the door.
Mind you, Republicans are not there yet. Just like the 1994 takeover of the U.S. House, most of these political tsunamis sneak up on us at the last moment and with little notice. But if the theory is true that many surveys this year overweight turnout for younger voters and underweight turnout for baby boomers, who now seem increasingly prone to vote Republican, then the two- or three-point margins we see in many contested races across the nation may be dead even if the Democrat is leading, or two to four points ahead for the Republican candidate who appears tied or slightly ahead in any given poll.
So much of this is on the shoulders of Romney, who single-handedly pulled a seemingly dead-in-the-water campaign out of the grave and gave it new life with a spectacular debate performance. And if history is any indicator, the vice presidential debate will have little impact regardless of who wins.
Yes, it is just weeks now until America votes, and there are hopeful signs for Republicans beyond just Romney. But so much can happen in those few weeks.