A rather stunning Gallup poll was released Wednesday showing Republicans moving ahead of Democrats in which Party registered voters support in next year's Congressional elections.
As Gallup reported in its summary, this is a rare occurrence in the almost sixty years since the polling organization has been tracking generic voter preferences for the House of Representatives.
Given media's downplaying of the significance of last week's election results, it's going to be fascinating to watch how they spin these numbers (h/t Byron York):
Republicans have moved ahead of Democrats by 48% to 44% among registered voters in the latest update on Gallup's generic congressional ballot for the 2010 House elections, after trailing by six points in July and two points last month.
Much as in last week's elections, Independent voters have shown a huge rightward shift:
In the latest poll, independent registered voters favor the Republican candidate by 52% to 30%. Both parties maintain similar loyalty from their bases, with 91% of Democratic registered voters preferring the Democratic candidate and 93% of Republican voters preferring the Republican.
Over the course of the year, independents' preference for the Republican candidate in their districts has grown, from a 1-point advantage in July to the current 22-point gap.
According to Gallup, these numbers are tremendously significant:
The overall results would predict a likely strong Republican showing if the House elections were held today. Though the registered-voter results reported here speak to the preferences of all eligible voters, voter turnout is crucial in determining the final outcome of midterm elections. Gallup will not begin to model likely turnout until much closer to the 2010 elections, but given that Republicans usually have a turnout advantage, if normal turnout patterns prevail in the coming election, prospects for a good Democratic showing appear slim. Of course, the elections are still nearly 12 months away and conditions could shift back in the Democrats' favor over this time.
Since Gallup regularly began using the generic ballot to measure registered voters' preferences for the House of Representatives in 1950, it has been rare for Republicans to have an advantage over Democrats.
The Washington Examiner's Byron York agreed:
It's an extraordinary turnaround for the GOP. Last July, Democrats held a six-point lead. Last December, Democrats held a 15-point lead. At one point in 2007, Democrats held a 23-point lead, and for all of that year, 2007, Democrats held a double-digit lead. [...]
Indeed, for even Gallup concluded:
Roughly a year before the 2010 midterm elections, Republicans seem well-positioned to win back some of their congressional losses in 2006 and 2008. Independents are increasingly coming to prefer the Republican candidate for Congress, and now favor the GOP by 22 points. Political conditions could still shift between now and Election Day to create a more favorable environment for Democratic candidates, but a Republican lead on the generic ballot among registered voters has been a sign of a strong Republican showing at the polls in the coming election.
Quite so as Gallup pointed out earlier in its summary:
Most of the prior Republican registered-voter leads on the generic ballot in Gallup polling occurred in 1994 and 2002, two strong years for the GOP.
Potentially more so will be seeing how this gets reported in the next 24 hours by the Obama-loving media.
For instance, CBSNews.com's piece on this subject chose to ignore just how rare it is for the Republicans to lead the Democrats in Gallup's generic Congressional poll, and that the last two times they did it meant huge victories for the GOP.
Instead, CBSNews.com offered reasons why the poll might not mean anything:
It should be noted that while this kind of poll shows momentum for Republicans ahead of the 2010 elections, the poll does not take into account specific preferences within a congressional district or for particular candidates. The 2010 elections consist of separate House and Senate campaigns rather than an overall national vote.
In addition, Gallup notes that this poll did not factor in the anticipated voter turnout a year from now. The poll release says turnout models will be included in future polls as the 2010 elections get closer in time.
For his part, ABC's George Stephanopoulos was quick to call the poll an outlier:
Our polling director Gary Langer points out that Gallup is the only national poll in the last month that has the GOP ahead. The others show Democrats holding a 6-12 point lead.
So for now, Gallup is the outlier. Which doesn't mean, of course, that it isn't a harbinger.
Will that be the take of others who bother reporting the surprising results of this poll?