Things looking up for GOP, not Obama

The Rasmussen survey now shows the GOP with its biggest lead of the year in the generic ballot: 43% to 38% over the Democrats. This result seems consistent with 14 point leads for the two Republican candidates in the two governors' races this November, in New Jersey and Virginia, states won by Barack Obama last year by 15%, and 7% respectively.  Obama has campaigned in both states recently, and despite this, the lead for the GOP candidate in each race has grown.

While Obama won the national popular vote last year by 7.2%, the Democratic candidates won even bigger margins in Senate and House races, if all individual race totals are combined, which explains why they significantly expanded their majorities in both Houses of Congress. We are, in other words, seeing a sea change in political sentiment in just 9 months.

Various neutral observers such as Stuart Rothenberg now see a possibility for the GOP to gain Senate seats, as opposed to losing more seats next year (the GOP has far more open seats to defend than the Democrats, usually a big vulnerability). In the House, every national survey, now shows more vulnerable Democrats than Republicans.

This does not mean the GOP will regain control of the House next year (they need to gain a net of 40 seats to accomplish this), only that the momentum is clearly in a different direction than it was leading up to the 2006 and 2008 Congressional races. We are still 15 months away from the midterms and the economy could significantly improve, a health care reform bill may pass, that will earn the media seal of approval (not hard), and be sold successfully by the White House to the nation.

So reversals are possible. But there appears to be a growing discomfort with one party rule, with too much change being pushed too quickly with rapidly growing deficits, and with so much of the American economy moving to government  control.

Barack Obama,who is still far more personally popular than his policies,or his party, has negative approval ratings in the Rasmussen survey. And Obama will not be on the ballot next year, so many voters who are personally devoted to him will likely not vote. This too will aid the GOP.