The Congressional battleground tilts further against Republicans

The latest congressional battleground survey of 2,460 likely voters by Democracy Corps and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, part of our ongoing weekly tracking of the most competitive House races, finds that the nation’s deepening financial crisis is taking its toll, not on incumbents, but specifically on Republicans, resulting in a significant shift in the electoral playing field in the Democrats’ favor.

  • In the 10 Democratic seats that might have been vulnerable, things have changed. The Democratic candidates here vaulted ahead since we last surveyed these seats two weeks ago, moving from a dead heat to an impressive 12-point advantage (54 to 42 percent). Democrats will hold most of these seats.
  • Democrats are fighting to a draw in the top 50 Republican seats. Across the 50 Republican-held districts surveyed, Democratic candidates are fighting their Republican opponents to a draw – unchanged from a week ago. But Obama has moved into the lead in these Republicans seats, creating a top-of-ticket help in this unlikely place.
  • Democrats now competitive and gaining in the third tier – the toughest 10 districts. In the third tier of Republican seats, the 10 toughest districts we surveyed, Democrats have cut a 16-point Republican advantage (40 to 56 percent) to just 6 points (45 to 51 percent) – with the named Republican candidates at only 51 percent. The Democratic candidates have made large gains on such measures as being effective in Congress, “fighting for people here”, and bringing change to Washington, all of which have been identified by our regression modeling as important drivers of the vote.

These results are produced by an environment that has become even more toxic for Republicans. The proportion of voters who believe the country is off on the wrong track is at a new record in this Republican battleground and the favorability of both parties has declined but the Republicans more so. John McCain’s standing has plummeted even in these Republican-leaning areas.

Meanwhile, many of the incumbents in the few competitive Democratic seats are doing their work. They have made impressive gains on being more effective and “fighting for people here.” They have also made big gains on who is an agent of change and who “shares your values.”

These results are based on a survey of 1,600 likely voters conducted across 50 Republican-held districts October 6-9, 2008 and a survey of 860 likely voters conducted across 10 Democratic-held districts October 6-8, 2008 (see the accompanying document for a full list of districts in both battlegrounds).

We hope that you find this analysis helpful in your work and please call us at 202-478-8300 with any questions or comments.

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