Maybe it was the mysteriously popular Arizona law getting eviscerated by the federal judge? Or perhaps it was Reps. Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters putting pugnacious faces on GOP charges of Democratic corruption. Whatever the reason, the brief ride in the sun that Democrats enjoyed in the latter half of July in Gallup's generic ballot test for the 2010 elections came to a screeching halt this week.
As I noted last week, Gallup had Democrats ahead 48-44 (actually a statistically insignificant amount, given the +/-4 point margin of error in the poll). It was the Democrats' second week in a row leading, and the first time since the spring when the polling organization began asking its generic ballot question (which party would you rather have in charge of Congress?) that either one had led by at least four points for consecutive weeks.
Adios winning streak. This week the numbers have virtually flipped, with Republicans now ahead 48-43. (A puzzled aside: While Gallup failed to mention that last week's Democratic lead was within the margin of error, the group's write-up describes this week's GOP lead as "not statistically significant," even though it's the margin is now only +/-3 points.)
That's bad news for Democrats. But wait, as they say on late night infomercials, there's more. Free with their new generic poll lead the Republicans also get a growing enthusiasm gap. A week ago the GOP held an 18-point edge in enthusiasm, 46-28. But Democrats seem to be edging toward comatose this week, with 22 percent--the lowest figure on the Gallup chart dating back to the spring--saying they're enthusiastic to vote. That's half of the GOP figure (44 percent).
Like I said about the Democratic edge a couple of weeks ago: Wait and see. This poll might be an outlier, or the last couple of weeks may be. But one thing remains unchanged--Democrats need to wake up their supporters, and soon.