For the first time since June 2003, the Republican candidate has a five point lead on the generic ballot in a new survey conducted for NPR by Public Opinion Strategies and Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner and Associates. The Republican candidate has a 44%-39% advantage.
(The analysis of the data in this article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of NPR or GQR.)
In 2008, the Dems won the generic ballot by eight points. To have a thirteen point shift in just over one year is a remarkable shift in the political environment. The GOP lead is bolstered by a twelve point advantage among Independents. The caveat for Republicans, however, is that 40% of Independents are undecided. Thus, they are still up for grabs.
Other key points on the generic ballot:
- Whites are voting Republican 51%-32%, while minorities are breaking 20% GOP/65% Dem.
- White men are overwhelmingly backing the GOP by a 58%-28% margin, while white women are voting 45% GOP/36% Dem (remember, if there is a decent number of minorities in your state/district, a GOP candidate must carry white women to win).
- Republicans are losing 18-44 year olds, but winning big among voters age 45+ — a key group in the non-Presidential year, lower turnout elections.
Most significantly, the generic ballot improves to blowout levels among the voters most interested in the elections. Among the 70% of likely voters who rate their interest in the upcoming November elections as an 8-10 on a scale of 1-10 (where one means not interested/ten means very interested), the GOP lead on the generic ballot grows to 48%-38%. Among 10s, it is a 50%-36% margin.
Obviously, the generic ballot can shift in either direction between now and November. However, these data reinforces that the momentum is on the side of the GOP. For skilled candidates and campaigns, momentum means, as we saw in Massachusetts, grassroots support, netroots support, money, and even message.