June 28, 2013

The broad assumption for next year’s congressional elections is that Republicans hold the advantage. Not only are Democrats defending more seats in the Senate, but Republicans have an entrenched House majority and benefit from the skewed demographics of midterm elections, where traditionally Democratic voters — young people, women and nonwhites — are underrepresented at the voting booth.

With that said, a new poll from Democracy Corps, a Democratic polling group, suggests that the landscape for Democrats is better than it looks. In its survey of the 24 most competitive Republican congressional districts, the GOP holds just a one-point advantage over a generic Democrat, 43 percent to 42 percent. What’s more, a large number of voters in these districts (54 percent) want Republicans to do more to work with President Obama. Overall, the Republican brand has taken a serious hit over the last six months — GOP opposition to universal background checks and the Violence Against Women Act, among other things, has raised “serious doubts” about the performance of Republican incumbents in competitive areas.

Indeed, this fits with other polling, in particular, generic ballot surveys, that show Democrats with a small but persistent advantage. In the Real Clear Politics average, for example, Democrats hold a three-point lead in the generic ballot, 42 percent to 39 percent.

None of this is to say that the GOP is set to lose in 2014, but that the current behavior of congressional Republicans has not endeared the public. Another 12 months of this, and the GOP could find itself in a worrisome position next November.

Jamelle Bouie is a staff writer at The American Prospect, where he writes a blog.