JONATHAN CHAIT AUGUST 12, 2011
Tom Jensen shouts for people to pay attention to the growing chance that Democrats take back the House:
I think most national pundits continue to be missing the boat on how possible it is that Democrats will retake control of the House next year. We find Democrats with a 7 point lead on the generic Congressional ballot this week at 47-40. After getting demolished with independent voters last year, they now hold a slight 39-36 advantage with them. And in another contrast to 2010 Democratic voters are actually slightly more unified than Republicans, with 83% committed to supporting the party's Congressional candidates compared to 80% in line with theirs.
This poll is certainly not an outlier. We have looked at the generic ballot 11 times going back to the beginning of March and Democrats have been ahead every single time, by an average margin of about 4 points. This 7 point advantage is the largest Democrats have had and if there was an election today I'm think that they'd take back the House. Of course there's plenty of time between now and next November for the momentum to shift back in the other direction.
Why is this possibility receiving so little attention? Wave elections in the House usually involve a backlash against the incumbent party, so it seems hard to imagine a pro-Democratic wave occurring while President Obama sits in office during an economic crisis. But the Republican Party remains deeply discredited from the Bush years. Republicans largely avoided voter blame in 2010, in part by dint of not controlling anything, but the high-profile way in which they've exercised power has given the party more responsibility for the status quo than a Congressional party usually has.
What's more, the House Republicans seem to be pursuing a strategy that hurts Obama and themselves simultaneously. The wild behavior of the House GOP caucus has dragged down Obama, but dragged the House GOP caucus down much farther. It's almost a suicide mission to help elect a Republican president, though I doubt House Republicans actually see it in those terms.
And this collapse has occurred largely outside the context of a debate over the Ryan budget, which will probably dominate the House Democratic message in the fall. Republicans could insulate themselves from that vote by cutting a Grand Bargain, by they simply do not want to. I can hardly think of another example of high-level politicians so unable to discern their political self-interest. Would they rather help their party win the White House than keep their own majority? Or are they simply not thinking clearly about the politics?