Friday, August 04, 2006

The Promised Land?

Charlie Cook says (subscription req'd) it looks like the Democrats may be headed to the majority in the house:

Time is running out for Republicans. Unless something dramatic happens before Election Day, Democrats will take control of the House. And the chances that they'll seize the Senate are rising toward 50-50.

The electoral hurricane bearing down on the GOP looks likely to be a Category 4 or 5, strong enough to destroy at least one of the party's majorities. The political climate feels much as it did before previous elections that produced sizable upheavals, such as in 1994, when Democrats lost 52 House seats, eight Senate seats, and control of both chambers. In the past two weeks, polling by CBS News/New York Times, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, and The Cook Political Report/RT Strategies found that just 27 to 28 percent of voters think the country is headed in the right direction. Between 60 and 66 percent say we are "on the wrong track." These are the kinds of "time for a change" numbers associated with tidal-wave elections.

[...]

What about voter turnout? In both the Cook/RT and the NBC/WSJ surveys, when voters were asked to rank, on a scale of 1 to 10, how interested they were in the upcoming elections, Democrats were much more interested. Voters ranking themselves as most engaged (10) favored Democrats by 14 points in one poll and 18 points in the other. As RT Strategies pollster Thom Riehle puts it, "We are approaching the point where most Democrats can't wait to vote, and some Republicans are embarrassed about voting. The effect of lopsided partisan interest in voting is magnified in low-turnout midterms, such as in 1974 and 1994."

[...]

Looking at the House race by race, we rate 15 Republican-held seats and no Democratic ones as "toss-ups." House Democrats need a 15-seat gain, and it wouldn't take much of a wave for them to get it. Even without a big wave, Democrats could add five of the six seats they need to take over the Senate. And it's important to remember the typical domino effect in Senate elections -- the closest races tend to break overwhelmingly in the same direction.

The bottom line: Unless something happens to interrupt current patterns, the House will turn over and the GOP will hang on to the Senate by a thread.

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