2006 Election Update

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Trending in polls continues to look strong for Democrats, but will it be strong enough to take control of either house? Previously, I took a look at the tracking of Electoral Vote and CQ Politics and spoke a bit about their methodology. Taking an average of their tracking, I forecasted the following outcome then:

House: R-221, D-214
Senate: R-51, D-49

Taking the same averages today, the results are a little different, but probably still nothing to bank on:

House: D-222, R-213
Senate: R-50, D-50

So, is the Democratic strategy of tying republicans to a failed Iraq policy working? Let's look a little deeper:

Of the seats that are most likely to change hands in the senate, let's compare the current polling with the trends in their approval rating:

Candidate Polling Appoval Trend
Burns, Conrad (R-MT) 44% 50% 36% -15%
Santorum, Rick (R-PA) 41% 54% 39% -4%
DeWine, Mike (R-OH) 40% 51% 42% -5%
Talent, Jim (R-MO) 42% 47% 44% +3%
Chafee, Lincoln (R-RI) 40% 46% 49% -4%
Allen, George (R-VA) 48% 46% 49% -4%

The polling numbers above are taken from Electoral Vote. The approval ratings are from Survey USA. The trend is the difference in approval September 2005 - September 2006. These vulnerable Republican seats, with the incumbent in the race, have a few common characteristics:

  • The candidate has an approval rating below 50%. This is, by no means, an across the board thing in congress: According to Survey USA, 63 of the 100 senators have an approval of 51% or greater. It seems people disapprove of Congress but not their congree people.
  • Most of these candidates are polling below their approval rating. That is probably the most suggestive of this ballot being a referendum on Iraq. For people to be voting against a candidate they approve of, one would think the motivatiing issue is outside the individual race.
  • Most of these candidates have seen a year-over-year drop in their approval ratings. While it is difficult to tie such a drop to the democratic strategy, this is not a universal trend: many other senators have experienced no such drop.


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