Democrats have a 48% to 44% advantage for the week of July 19-25 in Gallup tracking of registered voters' preferences for the 2010 congressional elections. This marks the second straight week in which Democrats have held an edge of at least four percentage points.
Although Republicans have moved to a four-point or higher advantage on three separate occasions, this is the first time either party has held an advantage of that size for two consecutive weeks. Republicans and Democrats have been tied on average across the 21 weeks of Gallup's tracking.
Republicans' Enthusiasm Lead Persists
Republicans continue to be substantially more enthusiastic about voting, as they have been since March. Their current 18-point lead in voting enthusiasm is down slightly from last week's 23-point lead, but it remains slightly higher than the average 16-point lead they have enjoyed since tracking began in March.
Overall enthusiasm for voting was little changed last week. Thirty-four percent of registered voters say they are very enthusiastic about voting, compared with 36% a week prior and an average of 33% so far this year.
This past week marks the second time since March that either party has held any type of edge on the generic ballot for three consecutive weeks. Exactly what is behind the uptick in support for Democrats is not clear, although last week's gains coincided with the passage of the financial reform bill. Independents continue to be more likely to say they will vote for the Republican rather than the Democratic candidate, while both Republicans and Democrats maintain more than 90% allegiance for their party's candidates.
Democrats' improved position on the generic ballot is counterbalanced by the continuing wide advantage Republicans have in voting enthusiasm. This GOP enthusiasm gap foreshadows a typical Republican turnout advantage in midterm election voting, meaning that Democrats need a substantial lead on the registered voter generic ballot to offset their turnout disadvantage. Still, the results show that expectations of an assured Republican landslide in the congressional elections this fall are not a foregone conclusion.
Gallup's final generic ballot measure, based on likely voters, has since 1950 closely matched the total percentage of votes cast nationally for Democratic and Republican candidates in all 435 U.S. House races -- a statistic that bears a predictable relationship to the number of House seats won by each party. Gallup does not screen for likely voters until closer to Election Day, but historically, Republicans' turnout advantage in midterm elections widens the Republican-Democrat gap in the GOP's favor. Thus, if these numbers held through Election Day, the two parties would likely be closely matched at the ballot box.