Mitch McConnell isn't the first Con who's demonstrated a remarkable inability to read polls, merely the latest:
At a press conference this afternoon, a reporter asked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to explain why such a low number of Americans (approximately 20 percent) self-identify as Republicans.
McConnell responded by dodging the question, saying, “You can pick out of polls what you want to focus on.” He then proceeded to pick out a number he wanted to focus on:
What surveys would those be, exactly, Mitch? Because it's obviously not this one:I think a very interesting question of most of the polls I’ve seen in the last few months is the question of the party generic ballot. That is, if the election were held today, would you be more likely to vote for the Republican or the Democrat? Most of the surveys that I’ve seen in the last three weeks or so have us close to even.
Don’t look now, but by one measure, the GOP is in the same position as it was heading into the 2008 and 2006 elections, both of which resulted in crippling landslide losses for the Republican Party.
If you look at the generic Congressional matchup in the internals of the new Washington Post poll, you’ll see that the Dem advantage over the GOP is virtually identical to what it was heading into the two previous Congressional elections.
Right now, the poll finds that when respondents are asked whether they will vote for a Dem or a GOPer in the 2010 elections, 51% pick the Dem and 39% pick the Republican.
In June of 2008 (the most recent historical data in the WaPo poll), Dems led the generic matchup 52%-37%. And in early November of 2006 the Dem lead was 51%-45%. Today the spread is largely unchanged.
Despite this, GOP cockiness about the midterms is widespread. As GOP Rep John Shadegg put it, speaking about health care: “If they pass this bill, I wouldn’t want to be a Democrat standing for reelection in 2010.”
Um. Put it like this... the only reason the numbers aren't higher in Dem favor is because the Dems haven't passed health care reform. If a good bill is successfully passed, the Dems will have absolutely nothing to worry about. Some Cons know this, which is why they're fighting reform tooth and nail. Some don't, but they're fighting reform tooth and nail anyway because, hey, it's something Dems want and therefore, Cons are automatically against it.
But set that aside. And it's just one poll. Let's take a look at some other polls, shall we?
"Greater than 90% chance Dems would win" sure as shit doesn't sound like "close to even." But, of course, reality's always much messier than their fantasies.Republicans have made gains, but Democrats still lead.
This can be easily demonstrated through a look at congressional generic ballot polling over the last four months of both 2005 and 2007, as well as a look at polling over the last two months of 2009 (that is, August 15th forward). Using archived data from Polling Report (for 2006), Real Clear Politics (for 2008), and a combination of Pollster.com and Polling Report for 2010 (Pollster.com for most polls, but Polling report for Daily Kos, CBS, and NBC polls), we can quickly see that Republicans are in a better position than they were in either 2006 or 2008, but that they are still clearly behind Democrats:
Democratic Lead, Generic Congressional Ballot, Autumn 2009, 2007 and 2005
1 Poll per Pollster
All Polls, no Rasmussen
1 Poll per pollster, No Rasmussen
- "All Polls" means every poll from every pollster, including multiple polls from pollsters with multiple polls.
- "1 Poll per Pollster" means the most recent poll from every pollster that conducted one in the given time frame
- the next two lines simply repeat #1 and #2, eliminating all Rasmussen polls
According to every measurement, even when Rasmussen polls are removed from the equation, Republicans are in a better position than they were in either the autumn of 2005 or the autumn of 2007. Even when it comes to the minimum gain of 3.5% gain for Republicans--represented in the fourth metric--there is still a greater than 90% chance that it is a real gain and not a statistical fluke.
At the same time, in every measurement, Democrats still hold a significant advantage well beyond the normal margin of error for polling averages of this sort. Even when all polls from every polling firm are included in the average--a method that currently shows Democrats only ahead by 3.8%--there is still a greater than 90% chance that Democrats would win the national House popular vote if the election were held today.
Here's the best poll of all, though:
Rachel Maddow talks to Rep. Alan Grayson about the trouble the Republicans have been having finding someone to run against him.
Maddow: So you now have somebody moving from another district—well two people—two candidates possibly moving from another district to run against you.
Grayson: Oh, they decided they’re in and three others—but you know we polled, we’ve already polled and we found out that people with fake names have better name recognition than people already in the race against me.
Maddow: You ran—you made up names…
Grayson: We made up names, right, we put them in a poll and the fake names did better than the current opponents. [emphasis added]
Excuse me a second.
HA HA HA HA BWA HA HA SNORT SNIFFLE HEE HEE HO HA HA HA HA THAT'S TOO AWESOME THAT IS HA HA HA MOTHERFUCKING PRICELESS.
Enjoy those rose-colored glasses while ye may, Cons.