With all the obsessive attention being given to the extraordinarily intense presidential contest, we can all be forgiven if we sometimes forget there’s a congressional campaign underway as well. But Democracy Corps and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research have been regularly polling competitive House districts, and their latest analysis suggests that 2008 could be as big a Democratic “wave” election as 2006.
The DCorps analysis is based on a survey that focused strictly on 40 Republican-controlled House districts. In half of them, Democrats have a distinct advantage, as measured by generic ballot support, attitudes towards the parties, favoribility ratings for the incumbent, and all sorts of issue and message testing. And in the other half, Republican incumbents are holding on by their fingernails. In general:
Republican incumbents in this battleground are remarkably weak. They hold a 41 percent approval rating and a net favorability significantly below the national average (just +4 compared to +15). Republican incumbents are even vulnerable in exurban and rural-small town districts, where their approval rating stands below the 40 percent mark and the change and anti-Washington climate is very strong.
As DCorps has argued for many months, Democrats can consolidate their congressional election advantage if and only if they represent a credible agenda for change:
The electorate in this Republican battleground is thirsty for change and their frustrations are driven largely by rising gas prices and global warming, a sense of a lack of accountability in government and an endless war that is costing us billions. Democrats are well positioned to represent the change that voters want in each of these areas.
Since Democrats are already poised to pick up a signficant number of seats in the U.S. Senate, the DCorps analysis indicates that if our candidate can win the White House, she or he (or if this somehow suggests a candidate bias, “he or she”) will have a fighting chance to break the current gridlock and get some serious things done.