The latest Battleground/GWU poll confirms that Republicans are well positioned to win big in November. With 70 percent of respondents believing we are on the “wrong track” and a four-point lead in the generic poll for Republicans, there is little to cheer Democrats, who keep insisting that there is no “wave.” Moreover, whatever advantage Democrats had on policy matters has largely disappeared. Republicans are favored over Democrats to handle the economy (49% to 42%), taxes (50% to 40%), immigration (48% to 41%), the budget and spending (51% to 38%) and foreign policy (50% to 40%). The top issue remains the economy, and considering that most people dislike how Obama is handling it (55% disapprove, 43% approve), the voters seem prepared to deliver a message.
Moreover — and this is the rub — numbers for Republicans in key battleground states where Senate seats are at risk are even more favorable for the GOP. If the GOP’s intensity is not as high as in 2010, that may be because so many House seats are in GOP hands already and there are relatively few competitive seats. (Charlie Cook sees five GOP seats as competitive and 15 Democratic seats as up for grabs.) The Post’s Aaron Blake sums up: “Republicans have a significant Senate minority (effectively 55-45) but a pretty good-sized House majority (233-199). That means gains in the Senate were always going to be easier to come by — and especially given a tantalizing 2014 map for the GOP that includes seven red states held by Democrats and very few legitimate Democratic targets. . . . The current Republican majority, which features 233 out of 435 members, is the second-biggest GOP contingent in the House in the last 60 years.”) Moreover, Republicans have the good fortune to have an unusual number of red states with a vulnerable Democratic senator or no incumbent at all.
Moreover, the GOP actually has solid candidates running in virtually every competitive race. In Virginia, for example, pollster Whit Ayres picks Ed Gillespie as the potential surprise candidate for 2014. In Iowa, the Democrats are the ones with the ham-handed candidate (Rep. Bruce Braley), the accused plagiarist forced to quit the race (John Walsh) and unimpressive candidates who seem to be their own worst enemy. (The American Crossroads ad attacking Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana is deadly.)
With an unpopular president and less intensity on the Democratic side, it is very likely that the GOP takes the Senate (winning six or more seats) and may pick up a few in the House (where they already have the majority). Democrats might not want to call this a wave. Republicans don’t care what you call it. If they get a majority in both houses, that’s a big win.