The pro-Republican group American Action Forum has conducted polls, as Jim Geraghty reports in National Review Online, in 12 East Coast House districts (East Coast in this case includes Virginia, West Virginia and Florida) currently held by Democrats. The sample size for each district is only 400, so I don’t think it’s wise to read too much into the percentages in each race. On average, voters prefer Republican candidates to Democratic candidates by a 38%-31% margin—somewhat startling, considering that every one of these districts elected a Democrat in 2008. This seems consistent with Gallup’s most recent numbers on the generic House vote, which show Democrats doing worse than at any other time since 1950, when Gallup started asking voters which party’s candidate they would vote for in House elections. Gallup shows Republicans leading 50%-43%, which is very similar to Real Clear Politics’s average of recent polls, which is 47%-41% Republican.
American Action Forum does release numbers for each of these races, which I hesitate to pass on because of the high error margin in a sample of 400. But in summary, they show one Democratic incumbent in pretty good shape, 34-year veteran Nick Joe Rahall in WV3; they show close races in eight districts (CT4, CT5, NY20, NY23, NY25, FL24, PA12, VA5); and they show Democratic incumbents trailing significantly in three districts, all in Pennsylvania (PA3, PA10, PA11).
Do these numbers spell doom for the Democratic majority? Writing at 538.com Nate Silver seems to think so. He’s written a thoughtful post, with a review of generic ballot numbers in recent cycles, which is very much worth reading and pondering.
It’s beginning to look like see-saw politics. Barack Obama got a higher percentage of the vote in 2008 than any other Democratic nominees in history except Andrew Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. Now Democrats seem to be on the brink of doing worse in House elections than they have in any cycle since 1946.