NPR released today the results of its final battleground poll conducted by the bipartisan team of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Public Opinion Strategies (POS) - and the results should get the attention of analysts and activists before writing the final chapter of the 2010 election. The poll was conducted in the 96 most-competitive House races, as designated by Charlie Cook, and neither POS nor NPR is responsible for any of the conclusions drawn in this poll.
For sure, this remains an ugly election in the 86 Democratic districts where two-thirds believe the country is off track. With nearly half saying they want to vote for someone new, Democrats are poised to lose more than half those seats along with control of the House.
But this is no death march, as Democratic candidates battle for every inch, with four important new developments.
- Republicans are now poised to lose a fair number of their ten battleground seats - where the Republican vote lead has been cut in half since the June NPR battleground poll. If Democratic win 5 seats here the odds change.
- In the 58 Democratic districts polled in both June and October, Democrats are making grudging gains. The Republican lead has dropped from 8 to 3 points and the Democratic vote is up from 41 to 44 percent. While these are small, they belie a Republican trend and could impact control - particularly if there is further movement.
- Independents are more closely contested. The Republicans now have a 13 point lead among independents - down from a 21 point margin in June. The same trend was apparent in this week’s Democracy Corps poll.
- Amazingly, Democrats win the message debate in the NPR survey. There is nothing more important at this point in the race. In a wave election, voters stop listening to the losing party and in June, the Democrat lost every message contest by 12 points. But in this survey, the overall Democratic message prevailed - 5 points better than the congressional vote margin - and potentially pushing up the Democratic vote 4 points. The Democratic message is in the shaded box below - with the Democratic candidate determined to change Washington for the middle class.
(DEM CANDIDATE NAME) might say “We have to change Washington. That means eliminating the special deals and tax breaks won by corporate lobbyists for the oil companies and Wall Street, paid for with higher deficits. (GOP CANDIDATE NAME) has pledged to protect those breaks for Wall Street CEOs, oil companies like BP and companies that ship our jobs to India and China. I'll take a different approach by cutting taxes for the middle class and small businesses so they can start creating jobs again. Let's make our country work for the middle class.”
These findings are based on a national telephone survey of 1200 likely voters conducted in the Congressional Battleground, designated by the Cook Political Report as the 86 most competitive Democratic districts (divided into two tiers of 53 districts for the most competitive and 33 for the next tier) and the 10 most competitive Republican districts by the Cook Political Report on October 5, 2010. The survey was conducted October 7-10, 2010. The margin of error for the full sample is +/- 3 percentage points; for the 445 interviews in both Democratic Tier 1 and Tier 2 the margin of error is +/- 4.6 percentage points, and for the 300 interviews in the Republican Tier the margin of error is +/- 5.6 percentage points.