Polls show brightening skies for Democrats

Some of the movement may reflect who's running TV spots at the moment, but it's clear some Democratic voters are coming home.

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Polls show Democratic Congressman Rick Larsen now leading Republican challenger John Koster

Some of the movement may reflect who's running TV spots at the moment, but it's clear some Democratic voters are coming home.

There is a lot of talk on the internet debating whether or not the situation is improving for the Democrats, or whether the Democrats are still in denial over the bad news coming. Two local polls and a new national poll out today are strong evidence that skies are indeed brightening a bit for the Ds.

Gallup and Rasmussen each release national generic ballot results every Monday.  While Gallup has been wildly inconsistent, Rasmussen has shown a steady Republican lead all year.  The past four weeks the Democrats have closed the gap in the Rasmussen poll.  On September 5, the Republican lead was 12 percent.  The next week it slipped to 11, then 10 the next week, 6 last week, and this week the Republican lead is down to 3 percent, 45-42.  This is the smallest GOP advantage Rasmussen has identified since October 2009.

Meanwhile, SurveyUSA late last week released polls in the 2nd and 8th congressional districts showing positive movement for the Democrats.  In the 2nd, the SurveyUSA poll shows Rep. Rick Larsen leading Republican John Koster, 50-47, while in the 8th CD, Rep. Dave Reichert now leads Democrat Susan DelBene 52-45.  In both cases the Democrats have gained roughly 5 percent over previous SurveyUSA polls.

Certainly local factors are important.  For instance, DelBene has been up with TV ads for awhile, while the Reichert campaign’s ads won’t start until this week.  When one side is on TV and the other isn’t, poll numbers tend to move, as we saw earlier in the Rossi-Murray race, and as has been noted in the California Senate race.  Still, it seems apparent that some Democratic voters are coming home, and we are seeing the sort of tightening that often happens in October.

Does this change the general narrative of the 2010 elections?  Not yet.  Republicans still hold a rare lead in the national generic ballot. Republicans like Dave Reichert are ahead, while Democrats like Patty Murray and Rick Larsen are in toss-up races.  The GOP is  going to gain seats in Olympia and Washington D.C.  But will the wave be big enough for the Rs to actually take majorities and oust incumbents like Murray and Larsen?  That has been the question all year and it remains in doubt.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Chris Vance

Chris Vance

Chris Vance, a former Republican party chairman, is a senior fellow at the Niskanen Center.