While Karl Rove expresses confidence that the GOP will maintain control of both the House and the Senate on November 7th and darkly hints about "private polls" containing "the numbers" that assure a GOP triumph, a growing number of not-so-private polls suggest that Rove has little to be cocky about.
The new AP/Ipsos poll out today is such a poll. The AP story (Poll: Middle class voters abandoning GOP) paints a rosy picture of the Democrats' chances for taking the House. Excerpts of the AP story follow:
Poll: Middle class voters abandoning GOP
The 2006 election is shaping up to be a repeat of 1994. This time, Democrats are favored to sweep Republicans from power in the House after a dozen years of GOP rule.
Less than two weeks before the Nov. 7 election, the latest Associated Press-AOL News poll found that likely voters overwhelmingly prefer Democrats over Republicans. They are angry at President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress, and say Iraq and the economy are their top issues.
At the same time, fickle middle-class voters are embracing the Democratic Party and fleeing the GOP - just as they abandoned Democrats a dozen years ago and ushered in an era of Republican control...
The AP-AOL News telephone poll of 2,000 adults, 970 of whom are likely voters, was conducted by Ipsos from Oct. 20-25.
In it, 56 percent of likely voters said they would vote to send a Democrat to the House and 37 percent said they would vote Republican - a 19-point difference. Democrats had a 10-point edge in early October...
Likely voters have low opinions of both Bush's job performance and that of the GOP-controlled Congress. The president's approval rating is at a dismal 38 percent while Congress' is even lower - 23 percent. Two-thirds of adults say America is on the wrong track...
Voters have grown increasingly angry at the Bush administration and Republican leadership in Congress throughout October.
Only 12 percent of likely voters say they are enthusiastic about the administration. The percentage of those who say they are angry with it has grown to 40 percent from 32 percent in early October. As for the GOP-controlled Congress, 32 percent of likely voters call themselves angry, up from 28 percent.
Groups of voters who grew more angry throughout the month include: women, minorities, liberals, moderates, Democrats and people who voted for Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., for president in 2004...
As strong as this AP article makes the Ipsos poll appear for Democratic House candidates, I was struck by how much stronger the actual data appeared to be when I reviewed the poll for myself. I was also impressed at the lengths Ipsos appears to have gone to, and the transparency they showed in determining just who among their sample of 2,000 adults was most likely to actually vote (they came up with a sub-sample of 970 "likely voters"). Every pollster has its own formula for determining "likely voters," many of them highly suspect. Rarely do they share with the public the questions they use to determine just who is likely to vote. Ipsos does, and clearly a respondent's insistence that he or she plans to vote is not good enough for Ipsos to determine that they actually will.
Below are some of my observations from reading the actual poll that I did not think were readily apparent from simply reading the AP article:
President Bush's Job Approval Rating
- 61% of the likely voters disapprove of Bush's job performance versus only 37% who approve. Those are scary numbers for Republicans to contemplate on their own, but the intensity of feelings is even grimmer (or brighter, depending upon your point of view).
- More than twice as many "strongly disapprove" of Bush (42%) than "strongly approve" of him (19%).
Congress' Job Approval Rating
- 75% of the likely voters disapprove of Congress versus only 23% who approve, but again the intensity of those feelings are remarkable.
- 43% "strongly disapprove" of the job Congress is doing versus only 4% who "strongly approve. That is a stagerring ratio of 10 to 1.
How do likely voters plan to vote in upcoming Congressional elections?
- Among "likely voters" 56% say they plan to vote for Democrats versus 37% who say they plan to vote for Republicans, a very strong 19-point Democratic advantage. But again, the fine print suggests an even stronger Democratic advantage.
- Of likely voters who will "definitely" or "probably" vote Democratic, only 11% say they might change their minds.
- On the other hand, 18% of likely voters who currently plan to vote Republican say they still might change their minds.
- Even if all of the Democratic leaners who say they might change their minds actually did so and switched to the Republicans, and none of the fence-sitting Republicans ended up switching (and the probability of that happening is virtually nil), The Democrats would still come out ahead with 50% of the votes to 44% for the Republicans. That suggests that even a stampede of second thoughts about voting for the Democratic House candidates would still leave the Democrats with a solid, statistically significant advantage over the Republicans.
- Regardless of who they plan to vote for, likely voters prefer a Congress controlled by the Democrats to one controlled by the Replicans by a margin of 55% to 37%.
The Bush Factor
- 33% of likely voters say their vote for Congress will at least in part be to "show opposition to President Bush."
- 15% of likely voters say their vote for Congress will at least in part be to "show support for President Bush."
Lots of Anger, Little Enthusiasm
Asked: "Which comes closest to your feelings about the Bush Administration?"
- 65% of likely voters expressed dissatisfaction, but nearly two-thirds of those, 40%, expressed "anger."
- 37% of likely voters indicated they were satisfied, but less than one-third of those, only 12%, said they were "enthusiastic."
Asked the same question about the Republican Leadership in Congress:
- 65% of likely voters said they are dissatisfied, and nearly half of those, 32%, are "angry."
- Only 34% said they were satisfied and less than one in five of those, 6%, said they were "enthusiastic."
- 63% of likely voters indicated that "recent disclosures of corruption and scandal in Congress" were "moderately" to "extremely" important and would influence how they voted in Congressional elections.
- Only 23% indicated that these disclosures were "not at all important."
Likely Voters on the Issues
Issues favored by the Republicans rank far down the list of issues that are important to likely voters. Issues considered "Extremely/Very Important" in declining order are:
- Iraq: 90%
- The economy: 89%
- Health Care: 84%
- Terrorism: 80%
- Social Security: 77%
- Political Corruption: 76%
- Taxes: 75%
- Gas Prices: 65%
- Immigration: 61%
- Same-sex Marriage: 40%
Democrats are the Party Likely Voters Trust to do a Better Job
On virtually every issue likely voters trust Democrats more than Republicans to do a better job:
- Terrorism: Democrats 43%; Republicans: 42%
- Protecting the country: Democrats 45%; Republicans 42%
- Handling the situation in Iraq: Democrats 51%; Republicans 36%
- Handling the economy: Democrats 52%; Republicans 39%
- Taxes: Democrats 47%; Republicans 41%
- Health Care: Democrats 58%; Republicans 30%
- Social Security: Democrats 55%; Republicans 32%
- Same-sex marriage: Democrats 46%; Republicans 36%
- Immigration: Democrats 45%; Republicans 37%
- Gas prices: Democrats 52%; Republicans 29%
- Political corruption: Democrats 43%; Republicans 25%
You may recall that I titled this post: "A Democratic Romp; Or a Stolen Election?" By way of a postscript allow me to point out another AP/Ipsos poll released last week but almost totally ignored by the mainstream media. That poll interviewed 1,000 adults in each of nine countries including the United States and asked: "How confident are you that votes in [the United States] elections are counted accurately?" The findings for residents of the United States are extremely interesting:
- Very confident: 26 percent
- Somewhat confident: 40 percent
- Not very confident: 20 percent
- Not at all confident: 14 percent
The actual poll is hidden behind a subscription wall, but of the 9 countries surveyed (Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States), only Italians expressed less confidence in the integrity of the vote count than Americans.
Based on the AP/Ipsos poll regarding likely voters and the general elections as well as other polls that suggest similar conclusions, I see no way the Republican Party can maintain control of the House of Representatives... unless, that is, they get a strong assist from the likes of Diebold and ES&S.