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Gallup: Early Signs Point to Very Competitive Mid-Term Elections

1:21 PM, Jul 30, 2009 • By GARY ANDRES
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Gallup released some new polling today suggesting Democrats will face stiffer political challenges in 2010 than in the past two electoral cycles. Democrats currently hold a slight 50%-44% lead in the generic ballot ("if the election were held today, which party would you vote for"). But as Gallup notes, Republicans historically turn out in higher proportions and wipe out those leads:

However, past data does suggest that Democrats typically need a large lead on the generic ballot among all registered voters in midterm elections to maintain a lead once turnout is taken into account.

For example, the Democratic Party averaged an 11 percentage point lead among registered voters in all of Gallup's generic ballot polling leading up to the 2006 midterm elections, compared with an eight-point Democratic advantage in the actual 2006 House vote. In 2001-2002, the average Democratic lead among registered voters in the generic ballot was three points in an election the Republicans eventually won by four points. And in 1998, Democrats enjoyed an average six-point registered voter lead while the eventual House vote was about evenly split between Republican and Democratic candidates.

The Gallup numbers also show Republicans and Democrats deadlocked among independents on the generic ballot.

The Democrats' tough electoral sledding is further complicated by history. The president's party historically loses seats in Congress in midterm elections. Gallup's numbers suggest that trend could continue next November.

Read the full Gallup report here.