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New Gallup poll shows GOP gains while Democrats are caught in giant sinkhole

June 2, 2010 |  6:58 am

06-02-red-dawn

Red State Dawn?

Nah, it probably wouldn't be as exciting as the testosterone-fueled Patrick Swayze movie "Red Dawn" back in the '80s, but if the latest poll from Gallup is any indication of things to come, then those wearing the red colors (Republicans, not the Soviets) will do some invading of their own this fall.

Gallup calls it their "generic ballot" survey.  Pollsters ask a simple question: "If the elections for Congress were being held today, which party's candidate would you vote for in your congressional district?"

Of the 1,549 respondents, 49% said they would vote for the Republican while 43% said they preferred the Democrat.

Although the six-point lead is significant, it's not to say the Democratic Party has been swallowed up by a Guatemalan-sized sinkhole.  But, as Ross Perot put it, there is a giant sucking sound. And it's the Democratic Party that's caught in the vortex.  

"The advantage in public support the Democratic Party built up during the latter part of the Bush administration and the early part of the Obama administration has all but disappeared," wrote Gallup's Jeffrey Jones while examining the first quarter's party affiliation gap.

It's not that people are jumping over to the Republican Party in droves. They're not. It's just that....

...the number of  voters identifying themselves with the Democratic Party has slipped.  And those calling themselves Independents have spiked.

And Independents, in this survey, are much more likely to vote Republican than Democrat by a 47% to 34% margin.

And then there's the enthusiasm factor.  To use another '80s movie reference, the "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka" factor. 

The Republicans have been ousted.  The Republicans are motivated.  Much more so than the party in power.

"Republicans continue to enjoy a healthy advantage in reported enthusiasm over Democrats -- 39% to 24% in the latest update," writes Jones. "For the last four weeks, Democrats' voting enthusiasm has been at or below that of Independents."

Then you add in President Obama's job approval rating (46%) -- which was his lowest weekly average to date -- and you've got those on the right predicting big gains.

But it's far too early for celebration or depression depending on your party affiliation.

There's a long time to go between now and November.  And there are plenty more movie references to go too.  If the vote were held today, the GOP would be excited.  But Gallup exercises plenty of caution.

"With a lead on the generic ballot, Republicans could be in a slightly stronger position than they have been in, though it is not clear whether the recent shift marks the beginning of a lasting change in the structure of the race or perhaps a short-term response to political events such as the Obama administration's handling of the BP oil spill," Jones writes. "The latter appeared to be the case earlier this year as Republicans built a small lead after the healthcare bill's passage into law, but the slight bump for the GOP among registered voters did not last."

-- Jimmy Orr

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Photo: Paratroopers from the movie "Red Dawn" descend on a peaceful Colorado town.  Credit: YouTube

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