According to the latest USA Today/Gallup Poll, the Democrats’ advantage among likely voters has shriveled from last month’s high of 23 points to 7. Still, the numbers bear a close similarity to results heading into the 1994 election that gave Republicans control of Congress.
WASHINGTON—A national USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds remarkable parallels between the congressional elections Tuesday and the watershed elections in 1994 that swept Republicans into control of the House and Senate.
*Then, likely voters by 51%-44% favored Republican congressional candidates. Now, voters by 51%-44% favor Democratic ones.
*Then, 52% said they were paying “quite a lot” of attention to the elections, the highest since the Gallup Poll began asking the question in 1958. Now, 50% say they are paying “quite a lot” of attention, the second-highest.
*Then, disapproval of Congress was at 66%. Now, disapproval of Congress is at 70%.
“Based on history, a 7-point lead among likely voters still suggests Democrats will take enough votes to win a majority of seats in the House,” says Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of the Gallup Poll. What gives some analysts pause, however, is the sophisticated redistricting over the past decade that has made most congressional districts less competitive.
What’s more, President Bush’s last-ditch push for votes and Sen. John Kerry’s comments that seemed to denigrate the education level of U.S. forces in Iraq have helped energize GOP voters. A Democratic advantage of 23 percentage points a month ago and 13 points two weeks ago is now down to 7.
A Pew Research Center survey released Sunday also showed that an 11-point edge for Democrats on the congressional ballot two weeks ago had narrowed to 4 points among likely voters. “It’s gone from a slam-dunk for Democrats to take the House to a pretty good chance,” says Andy Kohut, director of the center.