Five Months Out, NPR Poll Forecasts Big GOP House Gains

Last fall's elections, where Republicans took control of the two governorships at stake (New Jersey and Virginia), was supposed to be a wakeup call for Democrats.

In January, when Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate seat held for nearly a half-century by Ted Kennedy, the result was supposed to be a wakeup call for Democrats.

Just in case Democrats are still sleeping, here's another wakeup call:  a new NPR poll, conducted by the Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies, indicates that Republicans are in for a very happy November.

Democrat Stan Greenberg and Republican Glen Bolger looked at 70 House districts thought to be in play this fall.  And what they found, reports NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson, was "grim news for Democrats."

Of the 70 seats, 60 are held by Democrats, and many are in districts that also went for GOP presidential candidate John McCain in 2008, or they are districts where the Democratic incumbent is leaving.  Ten of the seats are held by House Republicans who won in districts carried by Barack Obama in '08.

In these districts, the poll shows voters choosing Republicans over Democrats by a 49-41 percent margin.  They also showed President Obama's approval numbers lower than they are nationally; 54 percent of the voters in the 70 districts disapprove of Obama's job performance, compared to 40 percent who approved.  Bolger says that in the past, when a president falls below 50 percent nationally, his party loses more than 40 seats in the House.

And when you throw in the obvious Republican enthusiasm gap, some are not writing off what was once thought to be impossible:  a GOP recapture of the House.

There are currently 255 Democrats and 177 Republicans in the House, with three vacancies:  GA 09 (Nathan Deal R), IN 03 (Mark Souder R) and NY 29 (Eric Massa D).  Assuming the results of upcoming special elections, Republicans need to have a net gain of 39 seats in November to make John Boehner speaker.

That's not going to be an easy feat for the GOP.  Think back to the huge Democratic gains in 2006 and 2008, or the Republican tide of 1980; none of those resulted in as many as 39 seats.  Here are the times since World War II that one party gained as many as 39 House seats:

1994 (GOP +52)

1974 (Dem +43)

1966 (GOP +47)

1958 (Dem +49)

1948 (Dem +75)

1946 (GOP +56)

These are the districts included in the NPR poll:

DEMOCRATIC (First tier):

  1. AL-2 (Bright)
  2. AR-1 (open - Berry)
  3. AR-2 (open - Snyder)
  4. AZ-8 (Giffords)
  5. CO-4 (Markey)
  6. FL-8 (Grayson)
  7. FL-24 (Kosmas)
  8. ID-1 (Minnick)
  9. IN-8 (open - Ellsworth)
  10. KS-3 (open - Moore)
  11. LA-3 (open - Melancon)
  12. MD-1 (Kratovil)
  13. MI-1 (open - Stupak)
  14. MI-7 (Schauer)
  15. MS-1 (Childers)
  16. NH-1 (Shea-Porter)
  17. ND-AL (Pomeroy)
  18. NH-2 (open - Hodes)
  19. NJ-3 (Adler)
  20. NM-2 (Teague)
  21. NY-24 (Arcuri)
  22. NY-29 (vacant - Massa)
  23. OH-1 (Dreihaus)
  24. OH-15 (Kilroy)
  25. PA-7 (open - Sestak)
  26. TN-6 (open - Gordon)
  27. TN-8 (open - Tanner)
  28. VA-2 (Nye)
  29. VA-5 (Perriello)
  30. WA-3 (open - Baird)

DEMOCRATIC (Second tier):

  1. AZ-1 (Kirkpatrick)
  2. AZ-5 (Mitchell)
  3. CA-11 (McNerney)
  4. CO-3 (Salazar)
  5. FL-2 (Boyd)
  6. IA-3 (Boswell)
  7. IL-14 (Foster)
  8. IN-9 (Hill)
  9. MO-4 (Skelton)
  10. NC-8 (Kissell)
  11. NM-1 (Heinrich)
  12. NY-1 (Bishop)
  13. NY-13 (McMahon)
  14. NY-19 (Hall)
  15. NY-23 (Owens)
  16. NY-25 (Maffei)
  17. NV-3 (Titus)
  18. OH-16 (Boccieri)
  19. OH-18 (Space)
  20. PA-3 (Dahlkemper)
  21. PA-8 (Murphy)
  22. PA-10 (Carney)
  23. PA-11 (Kanjorski)
  24. PA-12 (Critz)
  25. SC-5 (Spratt)
  26. TX-17 (Edwards)
  27. VA-9 (Boucher)
  28. WI-7 (open - Obey)
  29. WI-8 (Kagen)
  30. WV-1 (open - Mollohan)

REPUBLICAN:

  1. CA-3 (Lungren)
  2. CA-44 (Calvert)
  3. DE-AL (open - Castle)
  4. FL-25 (open - Diaz-Balart)
  5. HI-1 (Djou)
  6. IL-10 (open - Kirk)
  7. LA-2 (Cao)
  8. MN-6 (Bachmann)
  9. PA-6 (Gerlach)
  10. PA-15 (Dent)

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