Tuesday, May 24, 2011

NY-26 does mean something

There's going to be a lot of debate about whether Kathy Hochul's victory tonight means anything moving forward or not. I think it does. I think it is the first step toward the very real possibility that Democrats take the House back next year. Our national polling has been suggested that for almost three months now and this is the first tangible on the ground evidence backing that up.

Congressional Republicans are extremely unpopular and voters think they're doing an even worse job than the Democrats they put out of office six months ago. That was true in NY-26 and that's true nationally. Last month we found nationally that 43% of voters thought House Republicans were doing a worse job than the Democrats did while in the majority to only 36% who felt they were an improvement. Even in NY-26, which voted 13 points more Republican than the country as a whole in 2008, 38% of voters think the Republicans are doing a worse job than the Democrats to only 34% who think they're an improvement. You can talk about Jack Davis all you want but the reality is that if voters thought House Republicans were bringing the improvement they hoped for when they went to vote last November Jane Corwin would have won tonight

Another potential lesson learned from tonight- House Democratic candidates may be able to run against John Boehner next year in the same vein that House Republicans ran against Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi last year. Boehner's approval rating nationally is a 25/42 spread and even in this traditionally Republican district it's a 28/45 spread. Barack Obama's not popular in this district either, don't get me wrong- his approval is a 42/51 breakdown. But it's remarkable that his net approval is 8 points better than Boehner's in a district that John McCain won by 6 points in 2008. Again you can talk about Jack Davis all day but if John Boehner was more popular than Barack Obama in this district, as you would certainly have expected the case to be, then Jane Corwin would have won tonight.

So you may say all that's fine but it's just one district. But NY-26's results are not occurring in a vacuum. Democrats had a 7 point lead at 47-40 on our last look at the national generic Congressional ballot. And Democrats have led the generic Congressional ballot on 7 consecutive national polls we've asked about it on going back to mid-February. Voters shifted sharply back toward the Democrats after just a couple months of Republican control of the House.

It is just one district and tonight's victory doesn't mean Democrats will take back the House next year. But if voters didn't get so disappointed in the Republicans so quickly, if they didn't dislike John Boehner so much, and if they hadn't started moving back toward the Democrats so fast after January then tonight's election would not have turned out the way it did. Don't read too much into it- but don't call it meaningless either.


roseonpolitics said...

Clearly this victory gives the Democrats the upper hand. They know what to say.

What I find interesting is that the more "change" enacted with the Ryan budget and Affordable Health Care Act, they more people seem to be against it.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that 48% is also about the high-water mark for the Democratic performance in general. It's what Obama got in 2008, and what Crazy Davis (then-Dem, now Tea) got in 2006. So at the very least, this result is sort of a return to the Dem-majority years of 2006/2008 (if you allocate all of Davis's support to Republicans, which is certainly not the case.)

belegoster said...

Congratulations ppp on the call! I must admit it is very impressive to continue to make prescient calls while being associated with a partisan organization.

Anonymous said...

if paul ryan does pass, seniors and their children must simply learn to live with less.

I Am Iron Man said...

I'm extremely excited about this victory for the Democrats and I certainly hope they are paying attention. MEDICARE. MEDICARE. MEDICARE. This is a winning issue and they need to run with it every single day.

235 House Republicans are on the hook. 235 House Republicans are on record as voting to end Medicare. Make every single one of them answer for what they did.

Anonymous said...

Weren't the Republicans at the same low level of popularity spring 2009 when they lost a seat in upstate NY? They were behind in every generic congressional poll until after August.

Pavonis said...

Hi, have you noticed that Rasmussen is getting the opposite result from you on the generic ballot test? He shows GOP +7 on his May 15 poll. If I were Scotty, I'd be getting real nervous about betting so hard against PPP ;). Besides, he was very biased towards the GOP in 2010, according to fivethrirtyeight.

Anonymous said...

PPP got it right.

Todd Dugdale said...

Pavonis, you are right. In fact, if you look at the composite graphs and filter out Rasmussen, the result is very close to a +7 Democratic lead on the GCB. Rasmussen is, in effect, saying that all other pollsters are dramatically wrong.

This will change, though. Probably in August, Rasmussen will claim that some event dramatically pushed voters toward the Democrats, and his LV screen will be "adjusted".

NRH said...

The difference is, the reality-based community uses 'how well did you perform against the actual voting' as a criteria for selecting pollsters, and the Republicans use 'how much do we like the numbers you produce' as their criteria. If you want Republican propaganda, watch Scotty Raz. If you want to know where the races actually stand, watch PPP.

678 Media Group said...

Blogger Pavonis said...

Hi, have you noticed that Rasmussen is getting the opposite result from you on the generic ballot test? He shows GOP +7 on his May 15 poll. If I were Scotty, I'd be getting real nervous about betting so hard against PPP ;). Besides, he was very biased towards the GOP in 2010, according to fivethrirtyeight.
Rasnussen new congressional generic poll has GOP down to a 2 point lead ..

The Interesting Times said...

I see the anti-Rasmussen kooks are out in force. Anyone who actually looks at the data can see that Rasmussen is really no better or worse than the average pollster.

And anyone who sees Rasmussen showing higher approval ratings for Obama than Gallup more often than not, and still thinks they have a right-wing bias, needs to get his head checked.

It would be nice if we could keep the partisan hackery separate from the polling science.

The Interesting Times said...

As for NY-26, I argue the opposite: it really doesn't mean much.

First of all, the Republicans for whatever reason haven't done a very good job of winning special elections for the past year or two. It didn't affect their general election performance in the least.

Secondly, there was a "tea party" spoiler in the mix in NY-26. Without Davis, Corwin would have won comfortably. (Assuming most of Davis' votes would have gone for Corwin, he would have won 52-47.)

Third, the previous holder of the seat, Republican Chris Lee, resigned in disgrace under a cloud of scandal. Scandals always put serious hurt on the party of the politician responsible, causing that party to lose an election it would normally have won.

Both the scandalous resignation of Lee, and the presence of Davis, make NY-26 a special case and not a sign of things to come.

Finally, it's highly unlikely that the Democrats will win back the House in 2012. A change in House ownership twice in two years has only happened one time in the past 100 years that I know of. Such drastic swings generally don't happen.

Moreover, history shows that it's tougher for either party to win seats in an on-year election. In other words, while off-year elections like 2010 tend towards producing sharp swings, on-year elections like 2012 tend towards preserving the status quo--in this case, Republican control of the House.

The Democrats are very unlikely to regain control of the House in 2012, unless the President sees a major increase in his approval rating, which would give him some new coattails to ride.

The Democrats' best chance of winning back the House would be in 2014--especially if Obama were to lose in 2012, giving them a Republican President to run against two years later.

NRH said...

Rasmussen's Republican bias was thoroughly documented by Nate Silver after the 2010 election (and after the 2008 election, too). It's not a matter of disliking his right-wing politics; it's his ongoing statistical bias. If he consistently produces results that, across the universe of his polls, are more Republican than Election Day actually shows, and are more Republican-friendly than the rest of the polling universe, it is entirely fair and supported by data to state that Rasmussen's published results include a Republican-leaning bias. TiT, if you want to claim that he's honest, find some countervailing data to back it up.

Dustin Ingalls said...

"Without Davis, Corwin would have won comfortably."

False. If you read our poll analysis and Nate Silver's post yesterday, you'd change your tune.

The Interesting Times said...

NRH, I've mentioned several times that Rasmussen's Obama approval rating has been, for some time, more often than not higher than the approval ratings shown by Gallup and several other pollsters.

That would be a left-wing bias on Rasmussen's part, if I believed in that sort of thing.

There's a methodologial difference, but not a politically-motivated one.

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