Poll Casts Doubt On Large GOP Gains Outside Of The South

I haven’t placed much importance in the generic Congressional polls for two reasons. First, they seem to shift to favor the Democrats or Republicans every couple of weeks. Secondly, people vote in individual races, not by pulling a generic lever in a nation-wide election. A breakdown of this survey in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that even a Republican lead is not necessarily predictive of GOP gains in Congress due to the regional break-down:

The poll contains this interesting finding: The GOP has a HUGE generic-ballot edge in the South (52%-31%), but it doesn’t lead anywhere else. In the Northeast, Dems have a 55%-30% edge; in the Midwest, they lead 49%-38%; and in the West, it’s 44%-43%.

In other words, in many ways we are still where we were after the 2006 and 2008 elections. The long term trend continues of the Republicans turning into a regional party leading in the south and portions of the west.

Of course, people also vote by individual Congressional district and not by region. First Read does point out that there are districts outside of the south which resemble southern districts that the Republicans are targeting.  It is very likely that in an off-year election such as this the Republicans will retake districts which have been traditionally Republican but which switched in the last two election cycles. However, considering long term demographic trends and the manner in which the Republicans are only competitive in portions of the country, any victory in 2010 is likely to be a dead cat bounce. While too early to predict the ultimate results, this might also suggest that the Republicans stand to gain far fewer seats than they have been predicting.

It certainly looks like the Republicans can no longer count on using gay marriage as a wedge issue to win in many areas as they did in 2004. There is a strong trend towards support for same-sex marriage in several recent polls. I’ve predicted in the past that at some time we’d reach a tipping point where discrimination against gays would be as unacceptable to most people as racial discrimination now is. It looks like we might be reaching that point more quickly than I expected, and this is not a world where an extreme right wing party such as the current GOP can thrive.

Question of the Day

When the tea baggers talk about taking America back, exactly how many centuries do they mean?

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