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Don't pay attention to generic polls. Specific polls tell the real story


Slayer of the DP Newsbot
DP Veteran
Aug 27, 2005
Reaction score
Houston, TX
Political Leaning
Anyone following campaigns closely has seen the numbers and read the stories. Democrats are in trouble. One particularly salient point: last week's Gallup tracking poll showing a +10 advantage for Republicans in the generic ballot test. It's the largest Republican advantage in the history of Gallup asking the question. Some calculated what a +10 advantage would mean as far as seat pickup. Others simply rejoiced.

But hold on! Yesterday Gallup released its latest generic ballot test. It's evenly split between Dems and Republicans. We're coming back! Obama's address on Iraq had an effect! Glenn Beck's rally had an effect! Sound the other alarm now! Huh, I guess I missed those stories.

A week ago, Republicans were walking on clouds, bragging they would take back both houses. This was based on the generic Gallup poll, showing Republicans up by 10 points. This week, the Democrats are crowing because the generic Gallup poll is showing Democrats and Republicans tied.

Generic polls are like bouncing balls, and are pretty unreliable. Who do I think is going to win the day this November? I believe it will still be the GOP, even if the generic ballot shifts to the favor of the Democrats by November. I believe this by looking race by race. There are races where the Democratic incumbent has a huge lead, and I can rule those out. Of course, with Democratic voters now coming home, this is going to skew the generic poll, which is a lot of the reason generic polls are unreliable. Many races are going to be close, and Republicans are going to win their fair share of them.

Bottom line? Look race by race, and not at the generic ballot, and you will still see a pretty significant GOP surge in seat numbers.

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