The critical 7 point spread, last seen in October, has returned.
On Thursday afternoon, FOX News released a national poll on President Obama, the economy, foreign policy, and more. The most important part of this poll is question 18 which asks respondents on if they plan to support a Democratic candidate or Republican candidate for US Congress this fall. In this poll of registered voters, with leaners included, 46% of respondents said they planned to vote Democratic this fall and 39% planned to vote Republican; a 7 point lead for Democrats.
FOX News commissioned Democratic firm Anderson Robbins Research and Republican firm Shaw & Company Research to conduct the poll. It is important to note, while FOX News has a reputation as an outlet for conservative commentary, their polling research has always been scientific and follows the same standards as the polls done by NBC News, ABC News, CNN, The New York Times, and more. This poll is not suspect because FOX News commissioned it.
This poll came up with a new term, labeling some as “interested” voters and does create some pause for optimistic Democrats. When the poll was narrowed to those who knew for sure who they would be supporting, Democrats maintained 42% of the electorate, compared to 36% for the Republicans, a 6 point spread.
Earlier in the poll, a question (question 17) was asked if the voter was interested in the upcoming November election, of which 62% said they were. This term is comparable to the more common term of “enthusiasm” when people are asked about how enthusiastic one is to cast their ballot. Only 7% expressed no interest in the coming election.
When the registered voter pool is narrowed to those who are interested in the upcoming election, the Democratic edge evaporates completely. Among interested voters, Democrats earn 44% of the vote while Republicans pull 45%; a 1 point Republican edge. When those leaning one way or another is removed the electorate is tied at 42%.
It is the middle of August, and some Texas activists, myself included, have been wondering why Battleground Texas and Wendy Davis’ campaign have been focusing so much on reaching out to base Democratic voters so frequently instead of investing an overwhelming majority of resources towards those considered to persuadable or undecided. This poll answers that question. Nationally, Democrats have won the argument with voters on which party they prefer. However, we have to make sure our voters show up. Per the cross-tabs, Republicans enjoy a 12 point advantage of voters who are interested, and thus more likely to show up unprovoked, in the upcoming election.
This is, of course, just one poll of several which have been conducted. According to Real Clear Politics, when all recent generic congressional ballot polls are averaged together, Democrats have a 1.2% polling edge, which is the exact margin Democrats won the House popular vote by in 2012. Some prognosticators have stated a generic ballot spread where Democrat lead by 2% would result in close to no change in the balance of the US House, thanks largely in part to gerrymandering. If the FOX News poll bears out, a 7 point spread for Democrats could theoretically put the US House in play, meaning Texas Congressman Pete Gallego should cruise to an easy victory and our stronger challengers like Wesley Reed could pull off a victory.
Some interesting results in the FOX News poll’s cross-tabs include:
Party: Democrats are holding 90% of their own voters while Republicans are holding 86% of their own.
Gender: 46% of men plan on voting Republican while 41% plan to vote Democratic. Meanwhile 50% of women plan to vote Democratic compared to a paltry 34% who plan to vote Republican.
Race: Whites give Republicans 48% to 38% ballot edge over Democrats. African Americans overwhelmingly favor the Democratic Party 87% to 4%.
Age: Those under 35 are giving a majority of their support to Democrats and are largely ignoring Republicans: 52% to 33%. Seniors over 65 are breaking Democrats by an almost identical 53% to 35%.
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