Stan Greenberg and James Carville
According to a new survey by Democracy Corps and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research as part of our in-depth research in Mountain West states, Democrats are on the brink of making historic gains in swing Mountain West Congressional districts.
Four years ago in these 11 targeted districts, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry lost by 15 points and Democratic Congressional candidates lost by an average of 23 points. Now, however, a sea change has occurred as Obama is nearly tied with McCain (trailing by just thee points - 45% to 48%) and Democrats lead in the aggregate vote (50% to 45% in the named Congressional vote). Even more encouraging is the fact that Democratic candidates lead in districts currently held by a Republican (48% to 47%).
With both the Democratic presidential candidate and Democratic Congressional candidates making such major strides from four years ago, we believe this represents a cultural shift. Voters in these districts are now seriously supporting Democrats for federal offices, including president, many for the very first time. This is an important point, because in recent elections, Democrats had made gains at the state level in this region, notably for governor and state legislature, but there remained a gap between state performance and federal performance. This poll shows that Democrats have closed this gap and are now breaking through at the federal level as well.
Democrats still have work to do as some of their recent gains are still soft and are by no means assured. To lock in their gains, Democrats must focus on the economy. Specifically, they need to emphasize changing our energy policy and developing more alternative energy sources and the jobs that it would bring. In addition, Democrats should tout their fiscal conservatism and their commitment to balancing the budget and cutting wasteful spending.