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Polls Predict Big GOP Gains in Congress (Updated)

But voters still want to know what the Republicans would do.

12:00 AM, Aug 19, 2010 • By FRED BARNES
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Pollster David Winston believes Republicans have better prospects in 2010 than they did in 1994. “This administration has opened the door wide for Republicans,” he says.  “It’s even more open than it was in 1994.”

But Winston says Republicans “have the challenge of what people remember from 2006,” when Republicans were voted out of office in Congress.  And they must answer what Winston calls the “why us?” question.  They need to tell voters “what you’re going to get if we have a Republican majority.”

This doesn’t mean they have to adopt a specific proposal on every issue, according to Winston.  But since voters are focused on jobs and the economy, Republicans must “lay out the Republican plan to grow the economy and create jobs.”  He expects Republicans to do this next month.

Neil Newhouse, with his experience in polling, refuses to get too excited about 2010.  The most he’ll say is Republicans “have a shot” at winning the House.  He adds:  “No pollster ever lost his job by being conservative.”

UPDATE:  Karl Rove calculated recently that with Obama’s approval at 41 percent, Democrats will lose 35 House seats.  His basis for this projection:  “A look at the August job approval of Presidents since 1966 alongside the result of their first midterm.”  However, “the historical record also shows that August job approval and midterm results are not perfectly correlated,” Rove wrote. Presidents Carter and Reagan lost fewer seats than their August ratings indicated; Presidents Clinton and LBJ lost more.

Rove has also pointed to the political model of Nate Silver, a Democratic analyst. It projects that a tie in the overall House vote nationally would lead to a Republican pickup of 30 seats.  But if Republicans lead by 10 points in the popular vote, as they do today when the chronic underestimate of the Republican vote is accounted for, they’d win close to 70 seats.  They need 39 to win back the House.    

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