The Congressional Battleground Also a Surprise at 100 Days


Source: Greenberg Quinlan Rosner
Client: Democracy Corps

Downloads

Battleground Memo (PDF - 7 K)

Survey Results (PDF - 11 K)

Districts List (PDF - 7 K)

Executive Summary

A new survey by Democracy Corps and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research in the 40 most marginal Democratic seats shows Democratic incumbents holding strong in the territory where nearly all expect Republicans to reclaim lost ground.

Key Findings

With Congress poised to vote on the president's budget, the Democratic incumbents are winning over 50 percent of the vote - stable over the last three months - and hold a double-digit lead against their generic challengers even in the 20 most difficult seats. Meanwhile, in the 15 most marginal Republican districts the incumbents are far from safe. They beat their generic Democratic challengers by just 6 points and fail to top 50 percent in the vote (48 to 42 percent). Republicans are still on defense while President Obama remains very popular across all of these districts.

Even more troubling for these Republican incumbents is that their support is easily eroded when they are tied to their party's opposition to President Obama's economic agenda. After we play out a simulated debate on the economy and budget, the Republican members lose significant ground. They fall into a dead heat with their generic challengers (46 to 45 percent in favor of the Democrats) after facing attacks on their votes against the president's economic recovery and budget plans, and particularly their opposition to changing the Bush economic policies that favored the wealthy and corporations over the middle class. By comparison, even after being attacked for wasteful spending, the AIG scandal and raising taxes, the Democratic incumbents maintain their 13-point advantage.

Although the incumbents are fairly popular personally, they get just lukewarm numbers wanting to “re-elect” them (with the Republican incumbents weaker), suggesting that voters still remain to be convinced and that many of these incumbents could still face competitive races. But the combination of President Obama's strong standing and the continuing tarnish on the Republican brand leaves the Democratic incumbents in a much stronger position.

Methodology

This memo is based on a survey of 1,500 likely voters in the 40 most competitive Democratic-held districts and the 15 most marginal Republican-held districts conducted for Democracy Corps by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research April 16-21, 2009.