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Could Republicans Lose the House?

9:28 AM, Sep 24, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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The new Politico/GWU/Battleground poll seems to me, from a quick perusal of its internals, to have produced solid and non-quirky results consistent with several other surveys. It has a D+3 sample, and shows an Obama margin of 3 on the presidential ballot test and a 1 point Democratic edge on the generic congressional ballot. 

Boehner - Bush - Pelosi 20070329-6 d-0774-1-515h

Which raises the question: Is the conventional assumption that Republicans will continue to hold the House sound?

It may not be. Two other recent likely voter polls have produced an R+1 and a tied generic congressional ballot. So let's say that right now the congressional ballot is tied. The closest we've come to an even national popular vote for the House in recent years was in 2000, when Republicans had a narrow popular vote margin of .3 percent, and ended up with a narrow 221-212 margin in seats. An even popular vote tends to translate into pretty even results in seats split between the two parties. In the wave elections of 2006, 2008, and 2010, by contrast, the parties' popular vote margins ranged from 6 to 8 percentage points. The middling GOP majorities of 2002 and 2004 were based on national popular vote margins of more than 2 1/2 points.

In other words, IF the polls are right, and IF nothing much changes over the remaining six weeks, the House could well be in play. Maybe things will move in a Republican direction. Or maybe Republicans will hold on in an even popular vote election with the help of incumbency advantages and post-2010 redistricting. But it's also possible that an Obama +3 victory on Election Day would drag the Democrats to an edge in the congressional vote—and control of the House. In any case, based on current polling, I don't think one can say that it's now out of the question that we could wake up on the morning of November 7 to the prospect of ... Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

If I may once again quote the prophet Aladdin: “Abu, this is no time to panic. .  .  . Start panicking!” 

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