More Concrete Evidence This Election Cycle is Breaking Toward Republicans

Five weeks ago, the Democrats had a 1.2{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} edge on the generic congressional vote (40.0{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} GOP/41.2{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} DEM). Today, a few weeks later, Republicans have moved to a 4.0{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} edge (46.5{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} GOP/42.5{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} DEM), a net 5.2{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} movement in a month!

Here are the week by week track averages as reported in Real Clear Politics:

table 1

First, let’s be candid, some of this movement toward Republicans is pollsters moving from Registered Voter (RV) samples to Likely Voter (LV) samples.   As a result, in an off-year election, moving to an LV sample means the sample is a bit older with a higher percentage of White respondents, and, as a consequence, party identification is more evenly divided between the two parties.

But, looking at the last Democratic off-year wave, 2006, and the last Republican off-year wave, 2010, we see only modest differences over the same five week time period in both of these cycles. This is important to note that the switch from RV to LV samples did not significantly shift the numbers in previous wave elections.

table 2

We are asked frequently whether 2014 appears to be as good a year as 2010. The simple answer is “no, not yet.”   However, I always add an important “but,” which is, it does not need to match that historic postwar Republican high water mark in 2010 to be an incredibly good cycle for Republicans, one where we gain seats in the House, pick up the U.S. Senate, and make significant gains at the state legislative level.

There is another way to demonstrate how Republican fortunes are building during the last few weeks – and that is the significant improvement in the image rating of the Republican Party.   The Republican Party image may not be stellar, but, boy, is it a lot better than it’s been!

table 3

The findings from the Gallup data above are echoed in the NBC/WSJ polling. The NBC/WSJ scale is a bit different (it is positive, negative, and a read “neutral” option), but again, we can also see the improvement for in the image of the Republican Party.

table 4

Here is something else to remember, when party image looks similar between the two parties, the Democrats are being buoyed by significantly higher ratings among African Americans and Latinos.   But, in the last good Republican cycle, we saw the exact pattern that is emerging now: the Republican Party with a near break-even rating and the Democrats with a significant net negative rating among White respondents.

table 5

Democrats have spent the last year talking up their prospects because of the damaged Republican brand, and to be fair, the Republican brand has been tarnished. But, we are watching what happens when Republicans have a strong election cycle – movement on the congressional generic vote and an improving party image, both of which augur a very strong election for Republicans this November.

The data in this blog post is from NBC/Wall Street Journal polling conducted by Democratic pollster Fred Yang and me. This analysis is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of NBC, The Wall Street Journal, or Hart Research Associates.


Public Opinion Strategies