The numbers were from the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, conducted June 17-21 among 1,000 adults by pollsters Peter Hart (a Democrat) and Bill McInturff (a Republican). Among the registered voters in the survey, Republicans led by 2 points on the generic congressional ballot test, 45 percent to 43 percent. This may not sound like a lot, given that Democrats now hold 59 percent of House seats. When this same poll was taken in June 2008, however, Democrats led by 19 points, 52 percent to 33 percent.
That drop-off should be enough to sober Democrats up, but the next set of data was even more chilling. First, keep in mind that all registered voters don't vote even in presidential years, and that in midterm elections the turnout is about one-third less. In an attempt to ascertain who really is most likely to vote, pollsters asked registered voters, on a scale of 1 to 10, how interested they were in the November elections. Those who said either 9 or 10 added up to just over half of the registered voters, coming in at 51 percent.
Hart and McInturff then looked at the change among the most-interested voters from the same survey in 2008. Although 2010 is a "down-shifting" election, from a high-turnout presidential year to a lower-turnout midterm year, one group was more interested in November than it was in 2008: those who had voted for Republican John McCain for president. And the groups that showed the largest decline in interest? Those who voted for Barack Obama -- liberals, African-Americans, self-described Democrats, moderates, those living in either the Northeast or West, and younger voters 18 to 34 years of age. These are the "Holy Mackerel" numbers.
Those who have been watching polling patterns over the last year already have come to the same conclusion as Charlie Cook just pointed out, but the numbers dealing with enthusiasm are more toxic for Democrats than previously reported.
January 2010, Barack Obama waved concerns away, expressed by outgoing Representative Marion Berry, who warned of a midterm bloodbath in November, comparable to 1994 when Democrats took a 54-seat loss to Republicans, with Obama saying "Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me."
According to Gallup, Obama was right in a way, he is making a difference, but not exactly the difference he was thinking.
Though the president is not on the ballot in midterm election years, he certainly is a major factor in many voters' vote decisions, as evidenced by the typical pattern in which the president's party loses congressional seats in midterms. Evaluations of the president could be especially important among independents, whose congressional voting preferences are not anchored by party loyalty.
At this point, dissatisfaction with Obama appears to be a reason independents favor the Republican Party this year. Since March, 42% of independent registered voters, on average, have approved of the job Obama is doing as president, while 51% have disapproved. (This is a slightly more negative assessment than is true for all independents, among whom 44% approve and 45% disapprove of Obama.)
With the most recent bad news about unemployment figures for June, the continued incompetence being shown over the BP oil spill cleanup, the economy and federal deficit still being ranked as one of the two major concerns of Americans (Terrorism being the other), the continued spending proposals on the part of the Senate and Congressional Democrats, the conditions are ripe for what Cook described as a Category 3 or 4 Hurricane.
He named it Hurricane GOP and Democrats are directly in the path of destruction.