Intrepid reader Donald argues in posts below that the turnout at Glenn Beck's Rally was closer to the 87,000 that CBS claims than to the 300,000 reported by NBC, let alone the 500,000 claimed by the organizers of the rally. I am inclined to think that the number is well over 100,000, but beyond that I have no confidence. What is clear is that my friends on the Left, like Donald, are fighting a constant numbers battle these days and they are mostly fighting without ammunition.
Gallup sent a shock through the political atmosphere today with its poll on the generic question. This is the poll of voter preferences, as in: do you intend to vote Republican or Democrat in the next election?
Republicans lead by 51% to 41% among registered voters in Gallup weekly tracking of 2010 congressional voting preferences. The 10-percentage-point lead is the GOP's largest so far this year and is its largest in Gallup's history of tracking the midterm generic ballot for Congress.
That is indeed a shocking number. It is unprecedented. It is, as Gallup notes, twice as high as the gap favoring Republicans in 1994 when the GOP took control of both houses of Congress.
It is all the more shocking when one reflects that the generic numbers usually understate Republican support. That is true in large part because the Gallup numbers are sampling registered voters. Likely voters are more likely to lean toward the GOP.
I wouldn't get too excited if I were a Republican, which I am. Rasmussen polled more than twice as many likely voters over the same days, and showed a 6% advantage for Republicans on the generic question. So much for Rasmussen's bias. If either poll is accurate, and especially if the real number is somewhere in between, we may be about to witness a tidal wave.
The other important number from Gallup is the 50% to 25% enthusiasm gap favoring Republicans.
Republicans are now twice as likely as Democrats to be "very" enthusiastic about voting, and now hold -- by one point -- the largest such advantage of the year.
Polling numbers are not real. They are estimates based on samples. These numbers however accurate correlate with voting behavior in open primaries this year. In states where voters get to choose which primary to vote in on Election Day, those choosing the Republican primary have outnumbered their Democratic counterparts two to one. Those are real numbers.
All this good news for Republicans does have a downside. It will make it easier for Democrats to claim a symbolic victory if their losses are less than catastrophic. What strikes me as fascinating, regardless of whether you view Republican fortunes as good news or bad, is how stable the situation has been. Neither in 1994 nor in 1980, two big years for Republicans, did anyone have much warning in advance.
While Gallup's generic poll has fluctuated a bit, Republicans have been ahead almost all year and have broken Gallup's record three times in August. Labor Day is usually the date by which voter preferences firm up. It looks like the electorate has been decidedly anti-Democrat all year. Scott Brown's election in Massachusetts, Republican gubernatorial victories in New Jersey and Virginia, were not flukes.
Tomorrow night the President will go on TV and declare mission accomplished in Iraq. I am guessing that he will, contrary to expectations, give some credit to Bushes' surge. At least he can say that, unlike that bad Bush, he can admit his mistakes. It is telling that, in his second public address, in this important election year, he is going to talk about something that is very low on the voter's list of priorities. For better or worse, the path he and his party tread during the first two years of his presidency has brought into being a hostile majority coalition.