There are several national political reports today that advance a conversation we’ve been having on our Talk Politics blog for weeks.
Is this election cycle over? Will Republicans massacre Democrats thanks to a generic ballot advantage? What is still at work to change the balance in competitive races.
First, Politico advances a story today showing that while political insiders have strong thoughts on the outcome of the November elections, the general public – or less intense voters – have yet to really engage.
“D.C. follows the midterms like a fantasy football fanatic follows their team — analyzing the ups and downs, ins and outs and day to day as if nothing was more important and as if everyone else is following the issue with the same intensity — when they, in fact, do not,” said Chris Lehane, a top Democratic consultant.
“I go to the supermarket nearly every day. I have never heard anybody in line talking about which party is going to control Congress,” added John Pitney Jr., a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College. “From inside the Beltway, the battle for congressional majorities is like the Super Bowl and the World Series all in one. Outside the Beltway, it’s like a sporting event that very few people follow — think of Major League Lacrosse.”
Recent national and state polling shows that the economy remains the number one concern for voters and pollsters on both sides of the political spectrum see advantages for D’s and R’s. Read more from Politico here.
There is also a story on how cautious Republicans are responding to Democratic charges of "privatizing Social Security." This issue is one that has shown itself in the U.S. Senate race and the First Congressional District contest.
Finally, Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com offers analysis on why generic ballots may underestimate Democrats. While Silver predicts that Democrats will likely have a poor November, he concludes that this assertion won’t hold true across the board.
Still, the notion that specific Democratic candidates do slightly better than generic ones would square with what we’re seeing elsewhere in the data. It also arguably squares with the respective strategies of the two parties, as Republicans are generally trying to nationalize the race, while Democrats — lacking much in the way of a coherent national message — are trying to localize it.