I am not sure if this has already been posted, but it is a story that should interest everyone. Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (a prominent Democratic outfit) just released a poll they conducted of the 45 most competitive GOP-controlled districts (as defined by them), and the poll shows that Democratic challengers lead 50-to-43.
The survey was conducted of 1,600 likely voters from May 19-26. Very interestingly, the firm did a similar poll four months ago which found Democrats trailing by one point. This change certainly shows substantial move towards Democrats as we get closer to November.
Before doing their poll, CQR decided on what they believed were the top 45 most competitive districts currently in GOP hands (I will go over those below), and then chopped them into a first tier and a second tier. In the first tier districts, Democrats held a healthy 51-to-42 lead. Perhaps even more interesting, in the second tier races, Democrats lead 48-to-45 percent.
According to the poll, Bush is weighing down many GOP candidates, as his approval rating in these 45 districts — many of them red districts — stands at 33 percent.
When named in individually-polled districts, the GOP incumbents received an average approval rating of 38 percent. Democrats polled 17 points ahead of the GOP on the issue of the economy, and 11 points higher on the war in Iraq. Republicans polled three points higher than Dems on the issue of handling illegal immigration.
The poll found that Dems hold a five-point advantage on current party ID, and edge the GOP with independents by a slim 43-to-41.
Perhaps most troubling is that in these districts, Obama and McCain are tied 47-to-47.
Here are the districts included in the poll, broken up by tier:
TIER 1. AZ-01 (Renzi), CA-04 (Doolittle), CT-04 (Shays), IL-11 (Weller), MI-09 (Knollenberg), MN-03 (Ramstad), MO-06 (Graves), NV-03 (Porter), NJ-03 (Saxton), NJ-07 (Ferguson), NM-01 (Wilson), NY-13 (Fossella), NY-25 (Walsh), NC-08 (Hayes), OH-02 (Schmidt), OH-15 (Pryce), OH-16 (Regala), PA-06 (Gerlach), VA-11 (Davis), WV-02 (Capito Moore), and WY-AL (Cubin).
TIER 2. AL-02 (Everett), AK-AL(Young), CO-04 (Musgrave), FL-08 (Keller), FL-13 (Buchanan), FL-21 (L. Diaz-Balart), FL-24 (Feeney), ID-01 (Sali), IL-10 (Kirk), IL-18 (LaHood), KY-02 (Lewis), LA-04 (McCrery), MD-01 (Gilchrest), MI-07 (Walberg), MO-09 (Hulshof), NJ-02 (LoBiando), NM-02 (Pearce), NY-26 (Reynolds), NY-29 (Kuhl), OH-01 (Chabot), OH-14 (LaTourette), VA-02 (Drake), VA-10 (Wolf), WA-08 (Reichert).
Keep in mind, these districts were chosen not just based on our chances of winning them, but also on their breakdown (i.e. PVI index). So, while we may have a mediocre opponent in a district, in a vacuum it can still be considered Tier One.
While they hit all the close ones, at the outset you can probably pick a bit at some of these selections. CA-04, MO-06, OH-02, WV-02, WY-AL and probably NC-08 should all be in the second tier as they are fairly strong GOP strongholds and not that close to going blue in the long haul. While we will not win PA-06, it should be on in the poll as the district is winnable, we just did not recruit a top person.
In Tier Two, we could argue this, but in my opinion, as it stands now, ID-01, IL-18, VA-10 and probably MD-01 should be Tier Three districts. You could argue OH-01 being in Tier One. While NY-26, NY-29, WA-08 and probably CO-04 should be Tier One in terms of flipping, the districts themselves are Tier Two districts. While we will not win these two this cycle, NJ-02 and OH-14 are certainly competitive for us, we just have crummy opponents for them. (Incidentally, we need to target these two hard in 2010).
On balance, this poll is fascinating and I think they did a good job in bracketing the districts by current race and general character. Clearly, the GOP brand, even in pretty red districts is badly damaged (like we didn’t know that already), and the Democrats have a spectacular opportunity this November. Heck, even if a handful of these districts are a little poorly-organized by tier, the fact that we are ahead nine points in Tier One — which includes several really red districts like MO-06, OH-02, WV-02, and WY-AL bodes very well for us. Ditto Tier Two.
Obviously that Obama-McCain head-to-head is very troubling, but Obama has a lot of time to get and there and make his case to the independent voters in these swing districts. I like his chances, as it stands.
You can take this poll with a bit of salt because it is from a Democratic pollster. Also, with an overall sample size of 1,600, divided by 45 districts, that comes out to an average of just under 36 voters per district — hardly a large sample.
Yet, while I will not look at this poll as gospel, I think the overall numbers we get are promising and show that at the very least, we have much better strength then the GOP going into November, even in red-leaning districts. If this poll is accurate, a 25+ seat gain is possible.