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March 05, 2006

Can Democrats Retake Congress?

A lot of us are familiar with the poll gap. Time and again we see national polls (in 2004, 2002 and before) put the generic Democratic congressional candidate ahead of the generic Republican one, sometimes by a number of points, only to see the Republicans yet again control Congress (and in some years add to their margin). What causes this factor is hard exactly to pin down.

Is it the fact that Republican incumbents (which there are more of) will do better than "generic" Republican, or perhaps too much of the Democratic vote is contained in super majority districts in America's urban areas. Or maybe it's that favorite dead horse that loves to be beaten - turnout. Whatever it is, it's real.

Democracy Corps counters this by using actual incumbent names. I'm sure this introduces its own problems to the methodology, but at least a poll respondent in Houston County, Georgia is hearing "Jim Marshall" instead of "the Democrat" and in Connecticut they hear "Chris Shays" instead of "the Republican". Those are two places where I'd guess the person polls better than the party.

Similarly, callers in Sugarland, Texas hear "Tom Delay" instead of "the Republican" and, well, I can't really think of a Democrat to throw into this example to even it out.

Anyway, back to Democracy Corps. Their latest poll shows Democrats with an 8 point lead in Congressional races. This is in line with a lot of other polls, but their polling in 2004 (using the same methodology) actually showed Republicans with a 2 point lead.

So whereas other pollsters have gotten the hopes of Democratic activists up before only to leave them scratching their heads wondering how they lost seats in Congress, perhaps this latest poll will give a glimmer of hope to those people working hard for Democratic victories. Work a little harder -- you might actually celebrate on election night this year!

Posted by Chris at March 5, 2006 03:39 PM


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