October Surprise?


We are very close to believing that the 2010 election can move to a new place. Our latest poll shows the Democrats with a 6-point deficit-and any shift will have a significant impact on the number of House seats and the hold on the Senate. This conclusion and recommendations on strategy and message are based on a special program of weekly October polling aimed at producing an ’October surprise.‘

This is not a fool’s errand. In the 1998 election, we conducted national polls starting in September to see if Democrats could push back against the Republican overreach on Ken Starr and impeachment, as Democrats faced the prospect of historic losses in both the House and Senate. Only two weeks before the election did the plates shift and a Democratic counter-message on impeachment became effective in our polls. In the end, Democrats lost no net seats in Senate, gained five House seats and Newt Gingrich resigned.

Democracy Corps-October Surprise-Analysis

Democracy Corps-October Surprise-Graphs

Democracy Corps-October Surprise-Results

Key Findings

The national poll conducted October 2-4 by Democracy Corps and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner shows real movement - similar to changes reported by NBC News/Wall Street Journal and ABC News/Washington Post in the past week. The changes are summarized below:

  • The Republican lead in the named congressional ballot with likely voters has come down 4 points.
  • The image of Republican incumbent members (named) has become less positive in the last month.
  • The number of strong Democratic voters has gone up 4 points.
  • The mood about the state of the economy has become slightly less negative.
  • Democrats have gained on the Republicans on key issues: the economy, the deficit and being on your side, and Democrats have re-emerged with an advantage on Social Security and retirement.

Methodology

This memo is based on a poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Democracy Corps. The poll was conducted October 2-4, 2010 among 816 likely voters (margin of error of 3.5 percentage points).