A Second Wave for Dems in the House?


10-21-08, 2:59 am

With all eyes focused on the remaining 14 days of the presidential campaign, little attention has been aimed at the congressional races and the possibility for a second sweep of between 10 and 20 Republican-held seats in Congress on Nov. 4th, by some estimates.

New polling data of the 50 most competitive Republican-held congressional districts across the country, released this week by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, overall gave the edge to Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and showed a growing trend in favor of Democratic candidates for the US House of Representatives.

The respondents also gave George W. Bush an approval rating of 31 percent, and more than eight in ten described the country as on the wrong track.

The survey of almost 1,800 likely voters in the 50 Republican districts divided the results into three groups based on the strength of support for the candidates of the major parties. Viewed as the likeliest to change party, group 1 included those 20 Republican districts where Democratic challengers are leading by an average of eight points. Group 2 districts were viewed as 'toss-up' races with polling data showing 20 Democratic challengers on average within the margin of error of most polls. Group 3 districts were those next 10 races where Republican incumbents are polling and/or have approval ratings below 50 percent, but hold a lead greater than the margin of error.

In group 1 districts, according to the survey data provided by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, the Democratic challengers claimed an average eight-point advantage in the polls over the Republican incumbents and a sharply higher approval rating among voters. Group 1 respondents in these Republican-held districts also gave Barack Obama a 51 to 46 edge for the presidency.

The states in which seats appear to be most likely to shift to Democratic challengers represented all regions of the country, with the most in the South, and one in John McCain's home state of Arizona. If these results hold, Democrats in the House could see their 37 seat majority grow to between 47 and 57 seats, with a total of 246 to 256 members. While this would still be shy of the 290 needed to override a presidential veto, it does strengthen the Democrats' hand.

Of additional note, the survey's data put Rep. Michele Bachmann, the Republican incumbent in Minnesota's 6th district, in the uncomfortable, yet seemingly safe third group when the data was collected last week. However, since her remark on MSNBC over the weekend demanding investigations of members of Congress who don't share her views, calling them 'anti-American,' the newest poll numbers have moved that race into the second toss-up category.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has begun to raise new funds off of Bachmann's comments, suggesting that she is 'channeling Joseph McCarthy.' McCarthy was known for leading witch hunts in various branches of the US government in the 1950s, which ultimately led to his downfall and extensive alcohol abuse.