Republicans regain generic ballot edge

By Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 3, 2010; 11:41 AM

1. Republicans have regained an edge in Gallup's weekly generic ballot question, a development that suggests that the Democratic uptick seen in recent weeks may have been anomalous.

For the week of July 26-Aug. 1, 48 percent of those tested said they would support a generic Republican candidate for Congress while 44 percent said they would choose a generic Democrat.

Those numbers were in direct opposition to Gallup's last two weekly generic ballot tests -- where Democrats held leads of four and six points -- but largely consistent with the broader trend that Gallup has found on the question dating back to the spring.

(Another troubling number for Democrats in the latest Gallup poll? Forty-four percent of self identified Republicans say they are very enthusiastic about voting in 2010 as compared to just 22 percent of Democrats who say the same. The intensity gap is alive and well.)

While the generic ballot test is an imperfect measure of how any individual race might turn out, it is widely accepted as a relatively good political weather vane -- telling you which way (and how strongly) the wind is blowing nationally.

And so, the recent gains by Democrats on the question were regarded with optimism by party strategists who thought, perhaps, the political struggles of the last year might be coming to an end.

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