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Election 2004 Summary

GOP Generation-2004

Generic Ballot: Among all adults, Democrats lead by six on the Generic Congressional Ballot. Among Likely Voters, they lead by eight (46% to 38%). That's a seven-point improvement for the GOP since late-June. Three other polling firms have released their Generic Ballot numbers based upon surveys conducted since Ned Lamont defeated Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut primary. All show the Democrats' lead shrinking. Including our numbers, 3 of the 4 polls show the Democrats lead down to single digits. See Data (results posted for all adults sample).

If you're a Republican, you'll consider this good news, but there are cautions aplenty. First, it is unusual for a sample of Likely Voters to yield a more positive result for Democrats than for Republicans. This could suggest a real intensity advantage for the Democrats in 2006.

Second, the Democrats are even with Republicans when it comes to a question of who is trusted more on national security issues and the War in Iraq. That's bad news for Republicans who are used to a big advantage when it comes to national security matters.

Democrats also have a healthy advantage on who to trust when it comes to managing the economy.

Ultimately, it is always a mistake to read too much into a Generic Congressional Ballot survey. Nobody votes for generic ballots. Our tests of the 2008 Presidential Match-ups in various states showed Generic Democrats winning almost everywhere. But, when names like McCain, Giuliani, Gore, and Clinton were added, the GOP did much better.

At Rasmussen Reports, we occasionally poll on the Generic Congressional Ballot to get a very general sense of the trends. But, especially several months before election day, we do not consider it a very good predictor of electoral outcomes.

One last point...Democrats almost always have an advantage of the Generic Congressional Ballot early in the year (although not always as big as this year). Then, the gap begins to close after Labor Day. Perhaps the trend to a smaller advantage for the Democrats is simply getting started a bit early this year.

Lamont-Lieberman General Election Poll: Lieberman is up 46% to 41% over Lamont in our first General Election poll following Lamont's primary victory. That's an improvement for the incumbent since our last general election survey when the two candidates were tied at 40%. Lieberman now get 59% of votes from Republicans in the state... that's up from 42% in our previous poll.

Schlessinger, the GOP candidate, is a non-factor... he slipped from 13% in the previous poll to 6% today.

57% of the state's voters view Lieberman as politically moderate while 51% see Lamont as liberal.

The data confirms that the War in Iraq and a very strong anti-Bush sentiment drives Lamont voters. 85% of his supporters believe the situation will get worse in Iraq over the next 6 months... 90% say Bush is doing a poor job handling the situation in Iraq... 52% believe Bush should be impeached and removed from office.

15% of Lieberman voters believe that Bush should be impeached.

Overall, 55% of Connecticut voters trust Lieberman more than Lamont when it comes to the War on Terror. Thirty-one percent (31%) trust Lamont.

31% have a Very Favorable opinion of Lieberman, 18% Very Unfavorable.

For Lamont, 19% Very Favorable, 23% Very Unfavorable.

Lieberman still attracts 35% of votes from Democrats. Lamont will have to find a way to trim that number without alienating unaffiliated voters. Lieberman is viewed at least somewhat favorably by 65% of unaffiliated voters compared to 49% for Lamont.

Lamont-Lieberman Primary: Ned Lamontís victory over Joe Lieberman raises more questions than it answers.

The first question is about the significance of the event in terms of the national election dialogue. Because itís rare for a sitting Senator to be dumped in a party primary, many pundits simply assume that it must have cosmic significance. But, it is also possible that the Senator simply drifted out of touch with local Democrats and was overconfident enough to ignore early warning signs (Rasmussen Reports polling last December showed that Lieberman was potentially vulnerable to an anti-War candidate).

If this is the case, Lieberman simply got caught in a perfect storm with a wealthy and capable opponent, a motivating issue, and the lack of a serious contender from the opposing party. While quite plausible, bloggers, politicians, and journalists are likely to have too much fun spinning the significance to pay much attention to this possibility.

If the election has national significance, who does it help? Itís too early to tell. The high turnout in yesterdayís election might signal high turnout nationally from an anti-War, anti-Bush base. That would be very bad for Republicans. Another troubling sign for the GOP could come from moving the general issue of Iraq front and center at a time when confidence in the War on Terror is falling rapidly among the general public (the number who believe the US and its allies are winning is down to 39% in our latest poll). Most Americans now expect things to get worse in Iraq over the next six months.

However, if Lieberman remains competitive in a general election match-up, the dialogue may focus more on divisions among Democrats and attempts to define the Democratsí position in Iraq. An even better outcome for the GOP could emerge if the Lamont victory helps create the image that MoveOn.org and others on the left are taking over the Democrats. That could be enough to carry Senators like Jim Talent (R-MO) and Mike DeWine (R-OH) to victory and retain a GOP majority in the Senate.

About the only question the Lamont victory answered revolves around 2008 rather than 2006. Democratic Presidential contenders are more likely than ever to take a harder line against Iraq... and against the Bush Administration in general. The road for Hillary Clinton just got bumpier.

Senate Trends: Our latest numbers from Minnesota (Klobuchar +12), Washington (Cantwell +11), and New Jersey (Menendez +6) provide Democrats with breathing room in the three Senate races deemed by the conventional wisdom and polling data as the GOP's best pick-up opportunities of the cycle. In all three cases, polls earlier in the year gave Republicans hope but the trends are moving against them. With all the usual cavaets about a long time until Election Day, it is now hard to see the Republicans picking up any Democratic Senate seats.

When we look at seats the Democrats hope to pick up, it becomes even more clear that the summer months have not been kind to Republicans. Early in the year, Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum was the only Republican clearly in trouble. Now he is joined by a growing list of vulnerable colleagues, four of whom trail their Democratic challenger (Burns in Montana, Chafee in Rhode Island, DeWine in Ohio, and Talent in Missouri).

At the moment, it looks like the Ohio and Missouri races may be the ones to watch on Election Night. If they go to the Democrats, it will be a very long night in the White House. On the other hand, if DeWine and Talent can use the benefits of incumbency and other resources to stave off defeat, Democrats will once again be grousing about missed opportunities.

The big question mark, though, remains what might happen if Democrats can win the five states where they now lead. Is there another Senate seat they could pick up that might propel them to majority status? It's tough to say where else the Democrats might be favored, but our most recent polling in Nevada shows that a surprise may be possible if the trends continue in the current direction. Senator Ensign (R) is ahead in Nevada, but only by 7 points... and he only earns 46% of the vote at this time.

While the trends are not good at this time for the GOP, it's important to remember than much can happen by November. In the last mid-term election, summer predictions were very bleak for the GOP but the party ended up regaining control of the Senate in November. For the Republicans to turn it around this year, they will have to begin by reversing the decline in people who say they're part of the GOP (see entry below).

Check out our latest 2006 Senate Races summary for all the latest election polling information.

Partisan Trends: As we head into Election 2006, America is trending slightly towards the Democrats. Perhaps more precisely, the nation appears to be trending away from Republicans. During the month of July, Just 32.8% of Americans identified themselves as Republicans. Thatís down from 33.5% the month before and just a tenth-of-a-point above the lowest level recorded over the past two-and-a-half years. These results come from Rasmussen Reports tracking surveys of 15,000 voters per month and have a margin of sampling error smaller than a percentage point.

The number of Democrats remained essentially stableó36.8% in July compared to 37.0% in June. The ranks of the unaffiliated grew to 30.4%. Thatís the second highest figure since January 2004.

The number of Democrats has been consistent all year. The total range has been less than a single percentage point from a low of 36.1% in January to a high of 37.0% in June.

Republicans have suffered a loss of 1.7 percentage points since the beginning of the year.

On a net basis, Democrats now have a 3.9 percentage point advantage. July marks the third consecutive monthly gain on this measure for Democrats and itís more than twice the advantage they had in January. The biggest advantage the Democrats have enjoyed on this measure was 4.0 percentage points in March 2004.

Two years ago, for Election 2004, the trend began to favor the Republicans as the year wore on. We may be seeing the reverse impact in 2006.

Please keep in mind that these figures are for all adults, not Likely Voters. Republicans typically do a bit better among Likely Voters (in fact, the two parties ended up even among those who showed up to vote in 2004).

Monthly data from January 2004 to July 2006 can be reviewed here.

State-by-State Issue Summaries: During April and early May, we asked a series of questions about taxes and immigration in most states. Now you can compare state-by-state responses on both topics. See Tax Data. See Immigration Data.

Bush Job Approval: One of the major methodological disputes among public opinion pollsters involves weighting data by Political Party. All agree that partisan affiliation is one of the best indicators of voting intentions and perceptions of the President. However, some believe that party affiliation changes on a regular basis. At Rasmussen Reports, we do not. We believe party affiliation is generally stable as people switch their allegiance only rarely. Most of those partisan changes take place along the imaginary line between weak allegiance to a party and unaffiliated status.

This view is derived from data. Our own polling of 15,000 people per month showed only modest changes in month-by-month party affiliation over the past two plus years.  The percentage of Americans who consider themselves Republicans has ranged from 33.8% to 37.1%. Democrats from 35.9% to 38.8%. Exit polls from the last three Presidential elections confirm this view and also show very little change in Party Affiliation.

In addition to data, this view is confirmed by common sense and anecdotal evidence--how many people do you know that switch political parties on a regular basis?

Because there is so little change in partisan affiliation, we believe it is important to hold partisan affiliation constant in our surveys. Otherwise, random sampling variation could imply change that is not really there. For example, if one survey had 5% more Republicans, it would appear to show a bounce for the GOP. If another had 5% more Democrats, it would show a bounce in the opposite direction. In reality, of course, there are no such day-to-day swings in partisan affiliation and such numbers report changes in public opinion that are not really there.

The challenge for a pollster is how to maintain a steady measure of ongoing trends while also keeping up with whatever actual changes do take place in the general public. This is a challenge we continue to address and will continue to explore. For now, we adjust our partisan targets every month based upon actual survey data from the prior three months. This provides the needed stability for day to day tracking, but also adjust for longer term trends.

See Scott's Page Comments from May to July 2006.

See Scott's Page Comments from January to April 2006.