Sunday morning brought us a polling avalanche that strongly indicates Republicans are in a solid position to win next week's elections. Let's begin with this extraordinary finding from a nationwide survey of likely voters from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal -- a polling series that is consistently one of the most favorable to Democrats:
Republicans have expanded their advantage in the final days of the midterm campaign and now hold an 11-point lead among likely voters on the question of which party should control Congress, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Annenberg survey finds. Some 52% of likely voters in the survey said they wanted the election to produce a Republican-led Congress, while 41% favored Democratic control. A week earlier, Republicans had held a narrower, 5-point lead on the question in the Journal/NBC/Annenberg survey.
A double-digit lead for the GOP on this measure is an extreme rarity; it is redolent of what we saw in the closing days of the 2010 campaign -- in which Republicans gained 63 House seats, six Senate seats, and six governorships. As a point of reference, NBC/WSJ's final pre-election poll that year pegged the GOP's generic ballot at six points. Even if the new number is an outlier, it contributes to an undeniable trend. NBC/Marist (a polling series that has also favored Democrats this cycle) released a raft of state-level polling data Sunday morning, as did the New York Times/YouGov. The bottom line take-away:
Specifically, the NBC/Marist series showed substantial across-the-board movement toward the GOP in five of its six new surveys -- with the one exception of Arkansas, where Republican Tom Cotton continues to lead:
Marist movement since last #s: IA: JE+2-> JE+3 (R+1) CO: MU+6-> CG+1 (R+7) AR: TC+5-> TC+2 (D+3) KS: GO+10-> GO+1 (R+9) NC: KH+4-> TIE (R+4)— Liam Donovan (@LPDonovan) October 26, 2014
The top-line tie in North Carolina is less interesting to me than an incumbent sitting at 43 percent at the very end of an election cycle. Which way might the undecideds break? One clue in a battleground state carried twice by Obama: In Iowa, the president's job approval rating is 35 percent. The NYT/YouGov poll published its final enormous batch of data around the same time NBC's numbers emerged. It's friendlier than all other polling to Democrats in Colorado (as it has been throughout the cycle) at Udall +1, has the Iowa race tied, and gives Kay Hagan and Jeanne Shaheen modest leads in North Carolina and New Hampshire. But it also shows Republicans holding on in Georgia, Kentucky and Kansas, while leading by at least three points in six contests over Democrat-held seats (AK, AR, LA, MT, SD, WV). If this scenario holds, Republicans would take over the chamber with at least a 51/49 majority, plus they'd have a chance to expand their margin by prevailing in one or more of the too-close-to-call races. One thing that the NBC and NYT polls agree on: South Dakota isn't close, so it looks like this million-dollar move by the DSCC was, in fact, a fruitless head fake. All told, this eleventh-hour round of polling helps clarify a picture in which Republicans have several very viable paths to a Senate majority in 2015. And sometimes actions speak louder than polls -- via the New York Times:
Bracing for a difficult election in just over a week, when they could lose control of the Senate, Democrats exasperated with the White House are already moving to pin blame on President Obama, whom Republicans have made the centerpiece of the campaign. Even optimistic Democrats say they have little more than a 50-50 chance to retain their Senate majority. Senior elected officials, strategists and donors have begun to openly criticize Mr. Obama, contending that his low popularity and some ill-advised remarks have proved toxic for candidates trying to distinguish themselves from the president to appeal to swing voters. The rift represents a larger dispute about the party’s future...For now, though, the pre-emptive recriminations have begun. Tensions are growing between the White House and the party’s congressional leaders. Both sides are reluctant to air the dispute publicly, especially a week before the balloting, but some are acknowledging it exists...Democrats were angered when Mr. Obama said in an Oct. 2 speech in Illinois that his economic policies were on the ballot, and they were stunned last week when he said on Al Sharpton’s radio show that Democratic candidates who have done so much to distance themselves from him “are all folks who vote with me.”
The pre-criminations continue apace. Many thanks, Mr. President. I'll leave you with one extra special data point from the NYT/YouGov polling dump. It comes from one of the most visible gubernatorial races in the country, though it's not remotely close (unlike hyper-tight races in places like Wisconsin):
Richly, richly earned, Wendy. Requisite caveat: Polls are not results, which require turnout and enthusiasm from the winning side. Republican voters need to see this through.