Democrats continue slide in generic party poll

Gallup's latest has it 48-44% in favor of Republicans which is only significant perhaps because support for Democrats has been trending downward for months:

Republicans have moved ahead of Democrats by 48% to 44% among registered voters in the latest update on Gallup's generic congressional ballot for the 2010 House elections, after trailing by six points in July and two points last month.

The Nov. 5-8 update comes just after Republican victories in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial elections, which saw Republicans replace Democrats as governors of those states.

As was the case in last Tuesday's gubernatorial elections, independents are helping the Republicans' cause. In the latest poll, independent registered voters favor the Republican candidate by 52% to 30%. Both parties maintain similar loyalty from their bases, with 91% of Democratic registered voters preferring the Democratic candidate and 93% of Republican voters preferring the Republican.

Over the course of the year, independents' preference for the Republican candidate in their districts has grown, from a 1-point advantage in July to the current 22-point gap.

With independents growing at the expense of both parties, the fact that they favor the GOP so decisively is a good start toward regaining a lot of lost ground for Republicans.

As always, these generic contests are meaningless in a predictive sense because once you start putting names with the parties, those numbers are liable to narrow considerably. But as a trendline, it is undeniable; the Democrats are in trouble and show no sign of halting  their slide anytime soon.

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