Gallup has some numbers that might surprise.
Basically, the folks who decide the elections (the indys) are starting to consider the Republicans more and Dems better pay attention. Because the only reason they made such historic gains in 2006 is because the DNC targeted districts that wanted more moderate leadership and took seats from the GOP.
The last time Republicans were this close to Democrats in terms of total party support — during the second quarter of 2005 — George W. Bush was in the early months of his second term as president. But the Bush administration suffered a series of setbacks that year, including ongoing difficulty in stabilizing Iraq, a slow response to Hurricane Katrina, and the ultimately withdrawn nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, to name a few. Rising gas prices and a struggling economy only added to the problems plaguing the Bush administration during Bush’s second term in office.
Still, Dems don’t have to worry about a President’s approval rating dragging them down. At least not yet.
Bush’s job approval rating sank over the course of 2005, from 52% at the start of the year to 43% by late December, including several sub-40% ratings in the fall. By the end of 2006, it had fallen to 35%, and it never again exceeded 38%.
During this time, an increasing number of Americans began to align themselves with the Democratic Party. The Democratic advantage in leaned party ID grew to as large as 14 percentage points in the fourth quarter of 2006 and again in the first quarter of 2008 — the largest gap in favor of either party since Gallup began regularly measuring leaned party identification in 1991. Democrats maintained a double-digit lead for 11 of 12 quarters between the second quarter of 2006 and the first quarter of 2009. This solid edge in party support helped propel the Democratic Party to major victories in the 2006 and 2008 federal elections.
No doubt the GOP will be hard pressed to gain seats next Fall, but could they gain a few?
I welcome your thoughts.