Two steps forward, one step back. That's the news for Democrats from Gallup's latest survey looking toward the November congressional elections.
First the good news: Democrats had their best performance in Gallup's generic congressional ballot since the polling firm started asking the question in March. According to Gallup, 49 percent of registered voters favor the Democrats in November while 43 percent favor Republicans. That's the first time since mid-June--when the GOP held a 49-44 lead--that either party has had a statistically significant lead in the poll.
The second bit of good news for Democrats is that independents are responsible for the shift. Registered independents still favor Republicans, but by a margin of four points, down from 14 points last week. It's the second week in a row that independents have moved toward Democrats.
What's changed in the last week? Democrats passed a Wall Street reform bill. Not only did Republicans oppose the bill almost unanimously--Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, and Scott Brown of Massachusetts were the only Republicans in either chamber to support the legislation--but GOP leader John Boehner talked about repealing it. I don't see the political sense in vowing to repeal a Wall Street reform bill, and apparently neither did independent voters.
Here's the bad news for Democrats: GOP voter enthusiasm spiked last week. Fully 51 percent of GOP-ers are now "very enthusiastic" about voting, while only 28 percent of Democrats so described themselves. This is a real problem for Democrats. Remember that the first two figures cited in this blog post refer to registered voters, not likely voters. Hopefully Obama's remarks about extending unemployment insurance Monday, and presumed action on it in the Senate today, will help nudge up the excitement figure on the left.