Monday, 11 October 2010 19:18

Harris Poll: GOP Peaked Too Early In US Elections 2010

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Lou Harris, founder of The Harris Poll, shares his views and analysis on America's current political environment with a focus on the upcoming Congressional elections

Here are some of the major findings:

“The latent, discouraged Democratic electorate is waking up from its lethargy of last summer when the Republicans seemed to have convinced the vast majority of voters that they had the Congressional election all wrapped up. Currently, among registered voters, if there is a Tea Party candidate in the race, the Democrats lead 43% to Republicans' 30% and 9% for the Tea Party candidate. Assuming most Tea Party candidates are running as Republicans, not a separate Tea Party line, this makes the Democrats lead by 4%.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,031 adults, of whom 1,784 are registered voters, surveyed online between September 29 and October 1, 2010 by Harris Interactive.

This latest Harris Poll dramatically demonstrates that major elements that mobilized Obama's victory in the 2008 election have now been awakened again to make sure eccentric, Tea Party inspired candidates don't take over the country under a Republican-Tea Party banner. Interestingly, these voters tend to be women, who constitute a majority of the electorate and counterbalance the majorities of men who tend to vote Republican.


Many women have also recently taken a close look at various races around the country. However, for example, when it comes to Christine O'Donnell, Republican Senate candidate in Delaware and Meg Whitman, Republican gubernatorial candidate in California, women voters seem to be concluding that these women should not hold high office. There is similar evidence that young people may also be reacting to the types of nominees now representing the Tea Party.

Despite signs that the Democratic base maybe awakening, the long and steady deterioration of confidence in President Obama continues. The reason for this is evident. On his handling of the economy, his favorable rating is 64% negative (36% positive). When this survey asked about a new program to give major incentives to businesses to hire new employees, a 53% to 30% majority rejected this idea. The reason: when the current federal government and the business sector collaborate on a program, the public believes it will end up with the businesses getting paid handsomely, and the American public will be the ones left suffering on the sidelines. The example, millions of Americans believe, is the Tarp program which saved the banks but did not provide one new job to Americans out of work.

Now, as the election enters its final month and nears the November 2nd showdown, it appears a new dominant fear has overtaken the electorate. The fear is that the Republicans will once more take over Congress. The Republican Party has taken on a new image that, in the end, could prove fatal to the GOP.

I believe in this election year, the Republican Party peaked too early. They spent a solid year hammering away at the line that Obama was bankrupting the country with an out of control spending spree on programs that were ineffective and that did not help the plight of the American people. The "change for the good" that the Obama campaign promised was tabbed a dismal failure. His positive approval ratings dropped dramatically and the Democrats looked like big time losers.

By the end of this past August, the base of the Democratic Party was deeply discouraged and showed every sign of not even wanting to come out to vote in November. A real contributor to proving that the Democrats had failed was the rise of the Tea Party movement. The wild demonstrations that swept Town Hall meetings were taken to mean a new day had arrived in American politics. A new, militant conservative movement was believed to have stolen the imprimatur of change.

Hoping to revive the 2008 Democratic base became a major occupation of Democrat strategies. None of these retreat strategies seemed to work and the general Congressional vote showed double digit leads for the Republicans into early September. And, at the same time, the Tea party movement got bolder by the minute. They began to win primaries for U.S. Senate and Governor seats. Most Republican leaders thought the Tea Party organization would happily integrate its winning efforts into a new and revitalized Republican Party."

The full data tables associated with this release can be found here.

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