One more thought on the WSJ/NBC poll that shows Republicans with a huge generic edge in the South, but trailing Dems in every other region. Is it possible that the so-called “enthusiasm gap” is actually exaggerating what advantage the Republicans have?
For example, let’s take a look at 2008, arguably a good year for House Dems, in which Washington state Republicans garnered almost 41% of the vote (almost identical to McCain’s share of WA’s presidential tally), but only 33% of our nine U.S. House seats. Of course nine seats only divide up so many ways, so you’d pretty much expect 41% of the vote to get you either 33% or 44% of the seats.
But now take a look at 2002, a pretty good year for Republicans nationwide. In that election, Washington Republican House candidates pulled in over 46% of the votes cast between the two major parties, but still only won 33% of the available seats.
Perhaps WA Republicans really are more enthused than WA Democrats this year, which would surely show up in generic ballot surveys. But as 2002 shows, unless that enthusiasm is distributed in the right districts, it might not have that much of an impact on the final result. I mean, does it really matter how much shoe-ins like Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, Doc Hastings, Norm Dicks and Jim McDermott win by? Does it have any impact on WA-03 how much more Republicans in WA-04 hate Democrats this year than last?
I suppose before the GOP became a regional party, mostly confined to the South and Southern-like rural and ex-urban districts — you know, like back in 1994 — the generic ballot might have been a pretty damn good predictor of congressional results, but now…? I’m not so sure.
But I guess in a few more months, we’ll find out.