Friday, June 15, 2007

Even Texas turning Democratic?

With all the usual caveats about opinion polls, it's nevertheless worth noting that recent polls continue to suggest that the Republicans are headed for electoral catastrophe in November 2008. Voters don't seem to be especially enthusiastic about either of the major parties (and it's hard to blame them), but they seem to be more fed up with the Republicans by decisive margins.

The figures from the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll look especially dire:
US President George W. Bush’s approval rating plunged to a new low of 29 percent in the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, the Journal reported Thursday.

[...] Bush hit his lowest level in six years as president in the WSJ/NBC poll — the previous low approval rate was 34 percent in December 2006. [....]

The dismal news for the White House was underscored by equally bad news for Bush’s Republican Party 17 months before presidential elections: 49 percent of those surveyed for the poll said they [felt] the Democrat[ic] Party most closely reflects their beliefs, against 36 percent who felt that about Republicans.

That was the Republican Party’s lowest showing in the two decades of the WSJ/NBC poll, the Journal said.

To underscore that, 52 percent of the 1,008 adults surveyed said they would prefer a Democrat in the 2008 race, while only 31 percent said they would choose a Republican.

“The political environment for Republicans continues to erode,” pollster Neil Newhouse told the Journal.
Oddly enough, this pattern of generalized disillusionment with the Republicans and generic preference for the Democrats hasn't yet translated into consistent Democratic advantages when specific presidential candidates are named. In this WSJ/NBC poll, for example, Hillary Clinton has pulled ahead of the major Republican candidates ...
Looking at next year’s presidential vote, the poll sees Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination [JW: details here], outpacing Republican leader Rudolph Giuliani 48 percent to 43 percent.
... but other polls find different results:
That is at odds, however, with a Los Angeles Times poll earlier this week which showed that in a hypothetical matchup in next November’s election, Giuliani led Clinton 49 percent to 39 percent.
However, there are a lot of good reasons to expect that this volatility is a passing phenomenon (along with the current Giuliani boomlet). Hillary Clinton has been in the national spotlight for a decade and a half, and a lot of people have strong negative feelings about both her and Bill. But I suspect that even some of these people would reconsider when faced with the concrete alternative of actually voting for any of the likely Republican candidates instead.

=> In this respect, the latest poll results from Texas (!) are especially striking. Even Texas may be up for grabs.
Texas hasn't gone Democratic in a presidential race in more than three decades. But the survey shows Republican contender Sen. John McCain essentially tied with Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton among registered voters, with McCain at 36% and Clinton at 35% in a head-to-head contest. Republican Rudy Giuliani and Clinton also are essentially tied, at 32%-31%. [....]

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama fared less well than Clinton, though more voters were undecided. McCain beat Obama 32%-25%. Giuliani defeated Obama 32%-22%.

In the poll, nearly two-thirds of Texans said the country was on the wrong track. Four in 10 called the Iraq war the nation's most important problem. One in 10 cited immigration.
We still have to endure almost a year and a half of this before the next election, and it would be foolish to make confident predictions at this point. But so far, all signs point to a devastating rout for the Republicans ... and, perhaps, a new President Clinton in 2009. Stay tuned....

--Jeff Weintraub