Vulnerable

It’s been pretty clear for quite a while now that the Democrats are likely to suffer heavy losses in congressional races this fall. The big question has been, how heavy.
A new NPR poll suggests that the losses may well be heavy enough to shift control of the House to the Republicans. The poll finds that in the 60 congressional districts where Democrats are considered most vulnerable, Democrats trail their Republican opponent, 42 to 47 percent, with only a third saying they want to vote to reelect their member. In the 30 most vulnerable of these, the Democratic candidate trails by 9 points (39 to 48 percent). In the next 30, they trail 2 points (45 to 47 percent).
Moreover, there is a considerable enthusiasm gap. In the 60 districts, Republicans have a 14 point advantage (53 to 39) among voters who rate their interest in the election as 8 or higher on a 10-point scale.
If the Republicans win only 25 of the 30 districts in which, on aggregate, they lead by 9 percentage points and only half of the districts in which they lead by 2 percentage points, that’s a pick-up of 40 seats (which I believe is the magic number for gaining a majority) without winning in any other district. But, considering how well Republicans do in the second tier of 60 vulnerable seats, the number of vulnerable Democratic seats very likely exceeds 60.
Nor are the Dems likely to pick up more than a very small number of Republican-held seats. The same poll looked at the 10 most vulnerable such seats and found the Republican ahead by 16 points. That’s not very vulnerable.
The poll didn’t just analyze the horse races, it also tested Democratic and Republican arguments on the economy, health care, financial reform and the big picture for the 2010 election. The results “consistently favored the Republicans and closely resembled the vote breakdown.” This suggests that, although things certainly can change before November, the Repubican advantage rests on a solid foundation. The essence of that foundation — the view that the Democrats are govening from too far over on the left — will still be in place come November.

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