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Morning Jay: Why Hillary Won't Run, Generic Ballot, Gaming Out The Senate, And More!

6:30 AM, Oct 1, 2010 • By JAY COST
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1. Obama’s Best PickYesterday, Gallup found that Barack Obama has just a 15-point lead over Hillary Clinton for the 2012 Democratic nomination, with 10 percent undecided.  Yikes.  Gallup accurately notes:

Presidents with relatively low job approval ratings heading into a possible re-election bid are vulnerable to intra-party challenges. As two examples, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter were challenged for their respective parties' nomination as sitting presidents -- Ford by Ronald Reagan, and Carter by Edward Kennedy and Jerry Brown. Ford's job approval rating had reached as low as 37% in 1975, the year before he ran for re-election, and Carter's had reached 28% in 1979. Obama's current weekly job approval rating is 44%, albeit with more than two years until the next presidential election.

It was a really inspired political move to appoint Clinton to the State Department, for I think it essentially nullifies the odds she would challenge him in 2012. What’s she going to do?  Resign her position in the government, with all the crises worldwide, to run against her boss? That would be like James Monroe resigning in 1812 to challenge James Madison right when the War of 1812 is about to start. It’s just unthinkable. Obama gave Clinton an integral position in the administration, which means she is on his team. 

Smart.

2. Generic Ballot.  Gallup is waiting an unusually long time to put out its likely voter generic ballot model, but it's nevertheless teasing next week’s results:

Our latest measure for the week of Sept. 20-26 shows Republicans with a 20-percentage-point lead over Democrats in terms of the percentage of voters who are “very” enthusiastic about voting. Additionally, preliminary modeling of the likely electorate using Gallup’s traditional likely voter questions (more on this next week) suggests that if current patterns persist, Republicans could have a double-digit lead in the national House vote on Election Day, which would translate into Republicans gaining well above the number of seats necessary to control the House.

It is a bit of an understatement to say that a GOP lead of more than 10 points would translate to gains “well above” 218.  In fact, it would be the best GOP performance since the Great Depression.  It’s hard to estimate exactly how many Republican seats a +10 result would produce – predictive models can be particularly dodgy when estimating unprecedented results – but if the Republicans win 55 percent of the two-party House vote, I think they’d beat their haul from 1946, when the party won a total of 245 seats.

3. Is The Senate in Play?   Stuart Rothenberg says yes, and that “Senate Democrats can't take their East Coast/West Coast firewall for granted.”

This is how I see it playing out.  The RealClearPolitics averages of the polls show the GOP on track for eight pickups, with West Virginia as the latest addition.  Harry Reid has held a nominal lead for the last couple months, but he’s still under 45 percent of the vote.  That looks like a very gettable seat for the GOP.

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