Politics

GOP Resumes Favorable Standing on Generic Ballot

by Lydia Saad

Democratic enthusiasm for voting in midterms is the lowest seen this year

PRINCETON, NJ -- Registered voters favor Republicans by 48% and Democrats by 43% in Gallup's generic congressional ballot for the week of July 26 through Aug. 1. This follows two weeks when the numbers were nearly reversed.

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While the five-percentage-point edge for Republicans is not statistically significant, it represents a return to the prevailing 2010 pattern, seen since mid-March, whereby Republicans were tied or held a slight advantage over Democrats in most Gallup Daily tracking weekly averages. If sustained through Election Day, this competitive positioning for the Republicans among registered voters would point to major seat gains for that party in November given the usual Republican advantage in turnout.

That turnout may partly depend on Americans' fervor for voting as Election Day nears. The percentage of registered voters "very enthusiastic" about voting this November fell to 31% for July 26-Aug. 1 from 34% during the July 19-25 period. However, the decline was steeper among Democrats. Their latest 22% "very enthusiastic" figure is the lowest seen thus far in 2010, whereas the Republicans' 44% matches their average for the year.

Republican voters' enthusiasm surged to 51% in mid-July, the same week that Congress passed the Wall Street regulatory reform bill -- similar to the increase to 54% seen after passage of healthcare reform in March, but these swells have since dissipated.

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Bottom Line

Republicans have returned to a favorable position on Gallup's generic congressional ballot measure of party strength following two weeks when Democrats enjoyed unusually high support relative to where they stood for most of this year. To the extent congressional passage of financial regulatory reform on July 15 was the impetus for the Democrats' subsequent gains, the effect has faded.

Republicans' resurgence this past week could simply represent a return to the prior norm, but may also have been spurred by the Afghanistan war documents leak, the federal judge's ruling that blocked the implementation of certain aspects of the Arizona immigration law, and perhaps ethics investigations into two powerful senior Democratic members of the House, Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters.

Notably, over the same two-week period, Americans' approval of the job President Obama is doing has been flat at 45%.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking July 26-Aug. 1, 2010, with a random sample of 1,562 registered voters, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For results based on the total sample of registered voters, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each daily sample includes a minimum quota of 150 cell phone respondents and 850 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, cell phone-only status, cell phone-mostly status, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2009 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit http://www.gallup.com/.

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