Perhaps a sign of public discontent with the passage of ObamaCare, the Republicans now lead by four points, 48-44, on the Gallup Generic Congressional ballot among registered voters. It is rare for Republicans to take the lead in this poll as Gallup notes:
The trend based on registered voters shows how rare it is for the Republicans to lead on this “generic ballot” measure among all registered voters, as they do today. Other recent exceptions were recorded in 1994 — when Republicans wrested majority control from the Democrats for the first time in 40 years — and 2002, when the GOP achieved seat gains, a rarity for the president’s party in midterm elections.
On the other hand, the Democrats are not performing in the poll as they have in years when they have won Congress:
In midterm years when Democrats prevailed at the polls (such as 2006, 1990, and 1986), their net support among registered voters typically extended into double digits at several points during the year — something that has yet to happen in 2010.
Gallup notes the enthusiasm gap that currently exists between the parties:
Gallup will not begin identifying likely voters for the 2010 midterms until later in the year. However, at this early stage, Republicans show much greater enthusiasm than Democrats about voting in the elections.
In other poll news, the Republicans retain a nine point lead, 45-36, over the Democrats on the Rasmussen Generic Congressional ballot of likely voters. Rasmussen also reports that in his latest poll on repeal of ObamaCare, 58% of voters support repeal. Nate Silver at 538, a site which leans left politically, states the following in regard to current generic ballots:
Their bad news is that the House popular vote (a tabulation of the actual votes all around the country) and the generic ballot (an abstraction in the form of a poll) are not the same thing — and the difference usually tends to work to Democrats’ detriment. Although analysts debate the precise magnitude of the difference, on average the generic ballot has overestimated the Democrats’ performance in the popular vote by 3.4 points since 1992. If the pattern holds, that means that a 2.3-point deficit in generic ballot polls would translate to a 5.7 point deficit in the popular vote — which works out to a loss of 51 seats, according to our regression model.
These sorts of questions have been the subject of many, many academic studies, almost all of which involve far more rigor than what I’ve applied here. This is just meant to establish a benchmark. But that benchmark is a really bad one for Democrats. One reasonably well-informed translation of the generic ballot polls is that the Democrats would lose 51 House seats if the election were held today.
Some Democrat strategists predicted that Democrats would gain strength for the November election by passing ObamaCare. Thus far, that prediction, to say the least, has not come to pass.
Update: Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics has a detailed look here at just how bad it could get for the Democrats in November. His bottom line:
That said, I think those who suggest that the House is barely in play, or that we are a long way from a 1994-style scenario are missing the mark. A 1994-style scenario is probably the most likely outcome at this point. Moreover, it is well within the realm of possibility – not merely a far-fetched scenario – that Democratic losses could climb into the 80 or 90-seat range. The Democrats are sailing into a perfect storm of factors influencing a midterm election, and if the situation declines for them in the ensuing months, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Democratic losses eclipse 100 seats.