Tomorrow is not shaping up to be a great day for Democrats:
Now, Democrats and progressives do still have decent chances in both New Jersey and Maine. As Adam and I discussed this morning, those two campaigns are almost pure toss-ups, with the odds perhaps slightly in our favor in Maine and slightly against us in New Jersey. Still, even if we win in both states, it will be more akin to holding a firewall to prevent a disaster then it will to the significant electoral gains Democrats made from 2005-2008.
- Virginia. Republicans will handily win the Governor's race after two terms of Democratic control. My final average on the campaign shows Republican McDonnell ahead 54.5%--40.8%, virtually identical to Pollster.com's 54.7%--41.0%
- New York City. Michael Bloomberg will handily win a third term as mayor. The polls there show Bloomberg ahead by even more than McConnell, as he leads Mike Thompson. 52.2% to 37.8% (that is my average of the last five).
- NY-23. No matter the endorsement that Democrat Bill Owens received from former Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava, it is likely that Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman will prevail. Of the last six polls to be released, Hoffman leads in four, and only trails by 1% in the other two. Further, Hoffman's voters are more locked-in, according to the cross-tabs of the Siena poll. Really, Hoffman has been surging for some time now, and I would be stunned if he did not win by at least 5% tomorrow.
On Wednesday, Democrats will be tempted to brush off these results as lacking in national meaning. There are undoubtedly local factors at play in all of these elections, and candidate / campaign quality always makes a real difference in the outcome of any election. However, as a group we should not delude ourselves. Compared to one year ago, Republicans have made measurable gains.
November 2008 exit polls: Democrats +7-8%
November 2009 trendline: Democrats +5.2%
(The Democratic lead last year was 7% in the exit poll, but 8% in the Pollster.com trendline)
November 2008 vote margin: +7.27%
November 2009 net job approval: +5.2%
National House Ballot
November 2008 vote margin: Democrats +8.88%
November 2009 trend: Democrats +6.00%
Across the board, Republicans have made a net improvement of about 2-3% in their national position from one year ago. Further, on top of this net Republican gain, Democrats are not as enthusiastic and well-organized as they were last year. The final Survey USA poll from Virginia shows McCain winning the likely voter pool 52%-43%, even though he lost the state 53%-46% one year ago. The final PPP poll (PDF) is less extreme, but also shows McCain voters outnumbering Obama voters in the electorate, 48%-47%.
So, Democrats are facing a twin problem of a national Republican gain of 2-3%, combined with lower enthusiasm among their own base. While it is not yet a recipe for Republicans to regain control of Congress, it is certainly a recipe for Republicans to make real gains in the 2010 elections. As a party, Democrats should address these problems rather than pretending they don't exist.
Update: Some people have asked about the special election to replace Ellen Tauscher in CA-10. The district is D+11, and the only poll shows the Democrat up by 10%. That 10% margin is a pretty good over / under to measure any national implications.