Politico is out with its latest Washington battleground poll, and it found a strong trend of support moving back toward Democrats after their big losses in the 2010 election. From the Democratic analysis by Celinda Lake, Daniel Gotoff, and Matt Price:
The Democrats lead in the generic Congressional ballot by a single point, 42% to 41%, with 16% undecided—well within the survey’s margin of error. And yet the trend is unmistakable, as this represents a six-point turnaround from the Battleground survey of late October 2010, where voters supported Republicans by a five-point margin, 47% to 42%. In addition, intensity of support favors the Democrats as well, with 39% supporting a generic Democrat strongly and 37% supporting a generic Republican strongly; also a noticeable shift from last cycle when an enthusiasm gap dogged the Democrats. Now, key swing subgroups of the electorate are veering away from the Republicans. Voters in the Midwest went from R+6 in October to D+8 today. Independents, who were R+14 in our October survey and whom Republicans won nationwide by 19 points in the previous election, now support a generic Republican by just three points. Voters age 35-44 were R+8 and are now D+20. Non-college educated men have gone from supporting the Republicans by 15 points to supporting them by just eight points. Republicans are losing ground among seniors as well and fail to win majority support among them today. Seniors were R+17 in our October survey and R+21 on Election Day and are now R+10. Democrats will still need to work to get their voters out to vote. There remains an intensity gap with 80% of Republicans extremely likely to vote compared to 74% of Democrats including only 53% of young voters, 60% of Latino voters, and 61% among single voters.
While the House GOP voting to privatize Medicare is probably hurting Republicans among seniors, the impact seems modest. The seven-point swing away form Republicans among seniors is only slightly bigger than the six-point swing against them generally. Of course, it is possible that without the move, seniors would have stuck with the GOP more strongly, being more personally insulated from issues like high unemployment.
What is really interesting to me is the incredible 28-point swing toward Democrats among the 35 to 44 year-old age group. I would love to find out the cause for that, and can only begin to speculate. Could it be this group is most upset with Republican’s failure to live up to their promise of a focus on “jobs, jobs, jobs?”
It might be possible that Republican plan of saying they will protect people over 55 from their big Medicare cuts actually worked mostly as politically intended. It made older voters less angry, but had the additional impact of really upsetting those just below the cutoff.
Democrats should work to find out if in fact this is the case. If it is, Democrats might gain big by changing their message on Paul Ryan’s budget to target these just younger than middle-aged Americans who are afraid the Republican Party could make theirs plans of a comfortable retirement impossible.