Gallup has been doing the "generic" congressional ballot polls since 1946 with considerable success, so its likely voter result is always closely-watched. The numbers are only surprising given the size of the margin when taken together with all the other national polls this weekend: the Republicans have a 55 percent to 40 percent lead, with 5 percent undecided.
Gallup says that lead is "large enough to suggest that regardless of turnout, the Republicans will win more than the 40 seats needed to give them the majority in the House." The poll was conducted
Polling analyst Nate Silver, of FiveThirtyEight.com
, ventured a Doomsday scenario for Democrats that could even be worse than that, (as have other handicappers who see the GOP winning far more than the bare number of seats needed for a majority). Here's Silver's "devil's advocate" hypothesis:
Dawn breaks over New York City on Wednesday, Nov. 3. Democrats catching the early train to work are thinking about adding a little whiskey to their morning coffee. Because the headlines they are reading are truly terrible.
Not only did Republicans take over the House, but they also did so going away - winning a net of 78 seats from Democrats.
All that brings to mind this exchange that Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace had with Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, (a bit abridged):
WALLACE: Are you willing to predict -- are you willing to say right now, two days before, Democrats are going to hold onto the House?
VAN HOLLEN: Yes. I believe Democrats are going to hold onto the House ...
WALLACE: ... Let me just say -- I'll say it right now -- if you're right, a lot of the so-called experts are going to have plenty of egg on their faces Wednesday morning.
VAN HOLLEN: You're right about that, and they've been proven wrong many times before, as you know, Chris.
WALLACE: Absolutely. We'll know what to eat for breakfast.
Gallup says of its poll: "While voter preferences could change in the final two days, perhaps resulting from Democrats' final push to motivate their base to turn out, voter preferences appear to be quite settled in this final post-Labor Day phase of the campaign." The pollster added:
Gallup's historical model suggests that a party needs at least a two-point advantage in the national House vote to win a majority of the 435 seats. The Republicans' current likely voter margin suggests that this scenario is highly probable, making the question of interest this election not whether the GOP will win the majority, but by how much. Taking Gallup's final survey's margin of error into account, the historical model predicts that the Republicans could gain anywhere from 60 seats on up, with gains well beyond that possible.
Gallup's prediction is based on a voter turnout of 45 percent, which the pollster says is slightly higher than recent years.
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