Dems Strong In Zogby Poll Of House Races genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Studying the numbers

There's nothing like an old fashioned sex scandal when it comes to polling. On the heels of the Mark Foley page scandal, Zogby reports that Democrats are running strong in a large majority of the contested House districts currently held by Republicans. Democrats need to pickup 15 seats to assume control of the House and it appears that there are enough races out there to make that happen. Nonetheless, with just less than six weeks until the election, there is plenty of time for the numbers to change.

Democrats hold leads in races for 11 out of 15 key Republican-held House seats, the first in a series of Reuters/Zogby tracking polls shows. This sets the stage for a full-tilt battle for control of Congress, as the GOP House leadership faces mounting pressure from a congressional sex scandal.

The Democratic edge includes leads in three of five open seats where well-known Republicans are on the way out – some to seek higher office and some because of scandal. The race for the Illinois seat occupied by GOP icon Henry Hyde, who is retiring after 22 years in the House, is led by Democrat Tammy Duckworth, who holds a 43% to 38% lead over Republican Peter Roskar.

The Democratic edge is such that their candidates lead in seven of the nine House districts that contain Republican advantages in party identification. In the other six House races included in the Reuters/Zogby package of surveys, Democrats lead in four.

Pollster John Zogby: "If these numbers hold there could be very good news for Democrats this year. Of these 15 Republican-held seats, Democrats lead in 11, while Republicans lead in 4. Nine of the 11 Democratic leads are by five points or more and of the nine Republican incumbents involved, 8 have negative re-elects -- all of which are under 40%. The formula for Democratic victory: in each case where Democrats lead, the candidates are winning near or above 80% of their own party vote and they are leading among independents.

It really is a fascinating election cycle. I find myself waffling back and forth in my own attempts to determine if I think the Democrats can actually close the deal with voters and take control of the House or the Senate. I still worry that the GOP message of fear related to the issue of national security and terrorism is very powerful. I have long believed the Democrats would be well served to offer more than a message of opposition to the status quo...but that isn't the chosen strategy. Nonetheless, I do find reasons for optimism when I look at the news coming out of Iraq as well as inside the data of these numerous polls. I guess I'm left to recall that when trying to predict the future...everything is the same...until it isn't.

Daniel DiRito | October 4, 2006 | 12:29 PM
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