Congress Races Shifting to GOP?

The Palin Effect, or the positive spin that Sarah Palin’s presence on the McCain ticket is having on the presidential race, appears to be trickling down to senate and congressional races, according to the Gallup polling organization.

As of September 12, Democrats in congressional races were leading Republicans by only 3 points compared to double-digit leads since the beginning of 2008.The Dem lead for congressional races in the latest Gallup poll is 48-45 on the so-called ‘generic ballot’, which does not include specific candidates.

The lead was 53-40 in favor of the Democrats in January.

The main difference in the newest polling results is that independents now are breaking for Democrats by only 4 points over Republicans.These figures, of course, are only polls and do not necessarily reflect the race precisely, although the trend is highly noteworthy.

The new momentum for Republicans comes in the wake of Palin, good news from Iraq, Republicans’ strong stance in favor of increased energy production, and many slips and backfires in the Obama campaign, the most recent of which was an attack ad claiming that McCain doesn’t know how to use a computer and e-mail. But that shortcoming is attributed to McCain’s war injuries that have prevented him from using a computer keyboard like other people.

The gains also have come from the GOP convention bounce, and improvement in party identification numbers among Republicans as the focus shifts away from Bush and toward McCain/Palin and their mantra to clean up corruption in Washington.

The shift comes among ‘likely voters’ who are people who tell pollsters they are likely to vote on election day. This is a more accurate reading than polls taken among ‘registered voters’. The GOP leads among ‘likely voters’ by 50-45, according to Gallup.

Gallup notes that if this trend continues, it could actually help the GOP to regain control of the House and Senate. Congress, with both houses currently controlled by the Democrats, has shown approval ratings as low as 9% in one recent poll. President Bush’s lowest approval rating has hovered around 27%.

The latest Gallup number for congressional approval is 18%.

According to Gallup, congress had a rating of 18% in 2006 when Republicans were in control. The Democrats took over that year, and 2008 may see a similar desire to “throw the bums out” particularly in light of Democrat reluctance to move on energy, highlighted by the Republican ‘protest’ of staying in Washington to demand a vote on offshore oil drilling while the Democrats went home for summer recess.

The GOP has been worried by three special elections in Texas, Illinois and Mississippi where Democrat congressional candidates took House seats that have long been held by Republicans. But sentiment may be shifting over Obama’s weak campaign in which he now trails McCain, and may face further erosion as the election nears. Any gaffe in the debates could shift the race substantially, and Obama has made many.

One of the most shocking gaffes was noted in a September 15 revelation published in The New York Post in which an Iraqi official said that Obama suggested to him that Iraq delay American troop withdrawals until after the election. Imagine that. Obama acting as commander-in-chief months before the election even takes place.

Obama denies the allegations in the article. It should be interesting to find out the truth.

Some worried Democrats are stopping their attacks on McCain and Palin and are urging Obama to do the same. Several first-term Democrat House members face tough races in trying to hold on to their seats.

In related news, Karl Rove, George W. Bush’s campaign strategist for two trips to the White House, now says that McCain is closing in on the electoral map and that one state, Washington State, once a shoo-in for Democrats, now is up for grabs.

In an interesting Washington State race this year, Republican Dino Rossi is re-running the 2004 gubernatorial election in which Democrat Christine Gregoire was declared the winner by the state legislature in a highly controversial election.

In 2004, Rossi won the race on the first vote count, and then on a recount. The second recount giving the edge to Gregoire by only 129 ballots out of 2.9 million cast – the closest percentage victory ever in a major race in US politics – was suspected of being rife with corruption, ballot stuffing, illegally-cast ballots and questionable mail-in ballots, all from the heavily Democrat district in Seattle.

This district today is represented in the US House of Representatives by Democrat Jim McDermott, a far left figure known as ‘Baghdad Jim’ for a notorious trip to Iraq from where he criticized President Bush.

McDermott recently was ordered to pay Republican John Boehner of Ohio $1.1 million over a case in which McDermott illegally obtained and released to the public a private tape-recorded 1996 phone communication among Boehner and other Republicans.

Rossi now leads Gregoire by 49.4% to 47.6% according to an averaged September 10 poll on pollster.com

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