Gallup: Republican Congressional Ballot Lead Highest Ever

August 30, 2010 1:24 p.m.

Gallup is reporting that the GOP lead in congressional generic polling is now 10 points — the largest lead for the party in the storied polling firm’s history. The poll asks respondents which party they would prefer to see in control of Congress. Republicans now lead Gallup’s generic ballot 51-41.

Gallup attributes the double-digit Republican lead in its latest polling to the massive GOP advantage in voter enthusiasm, a story we’ve been talking about all year. The newest Gallup numbers show Republicans with a staggering 25% advantage in voter enthusiasm. What does that mean in real terms? “Republicans are now twice as likely as Democrats to be ‘very’ enthusiastic about voting,” the pollster writes.Gallup is one of America’s oldest pollsters and has a long memory when it comes to political questions. Digging in its own archives, the pollster puts the month of August into historical perspective when it comes to the newest numbers:

The Republican leads of 6, 7, and 10 points this month are all higher than any previous midterm Republican advantage in Gallup’s history of tracking the generic ballot, which dates to 1942. Prior to this year, the highest such gap was five points, measured in June 2002 and July 1994. Elections in both of these years resulted in significant Republican gains in House seats.

This is the largest lead for Republicans in Gallup’s generic ballot poll, but Democrats have had much greater advantages in past numbers from the pollster. Ahead of the 1974 mid-term, for example, Democrats lead Gallup’s generic ballot poll by 32 points.

It should be noted that other national polling has shown the generic ballot question to be much closer than Gallup says it is today. A Newsweek poll released last week for example showed Democrats and Republicans tied at 45% each on the generic ballot. The TPM Poll Average shows Republicans ahead 47.4-41.7.

But trendlines on the TPM Average confirm Gallup’s numbers that show Republicans with the momentum heading into the start of hardcore campaigning in November:

Democrats have argued that there’s still a lot of time before voters head to the polls in November, and they say that further public discussion of what they’ve accomplished since President Obama was inaugurated will close the gap for the Democrats by Election Day. But Republicans say that it’s what the Democrats haven’t accomplished — namely, putting a big dent in the nation’s unemployment numbers — that will tilt things heavily in the GOP’s favor when all is said and done this year.

Gallup surveyed 1,540 registered voters Aug. 23-29. The margin of error is 4%.

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