DCCC Tries to Counter Mounting Bad News With Polling Dump

Posted September 7, 2010 at 1:40pm

After a trying Labor Day weekend in which the overarching storyline was House Democrats’ increasingly gloomy prospects for holding the majority, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee pushed back Tuesday by releasing a roundup of polling that showed the party in good standing in roughly a dozen competitive Democrat-held districts.

“While Republican Leader John Boehner and House Republicans are measuring the drapes, a recent crop of district by district polls show Democrats in a strong position for November,” a DCCC press release stated.

The release included DCCC internal polling and polls conducted by the campaigns. The committee has been criticized for not releasing its polls, while Republicans have regularly released their numbers — which have showed their candidates in strong positions — in recent weeks.

“Even the most novice political observer understands that these polls spell only one thing for Democrats, and that is panic,” National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Paul Lindsay said. “Americans have refused to buy into the Democrats’ job-killing agenda and campaign scare tactics, and they’re not likely to believe this desperate spin either.”

The DCCC polls, which were taken of 400 likely voters in late August and carried a 4.9-point margin of error, include some of the party’s most vulnerable candidates. For example, a Benenson Strategy Group poll found Rep. Michael Arcuri (D-N.Y.) ahead of Republican Richard Hanna, 50 percent to 37 percent.

Rep. Bobby Bright (D-Ala.), another top target in November, led Republican Martha Roby by 9 points in a poll taken by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. That firm also found Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.) ahead by 12 points over Republican Harold Johnson.

In South Dakota, Anzalone Liszt Research found Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D) ahead of highly touted Republican Kristi Noem by 9 points in a two-way matchup and 11 points when independent candidate Thomas Marking was included.

Things don’t look as good for Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.), who is in a dead heat with Republican Robert Hurt according to a Global Strategy Group survey. However, the Democratic poll is in stark contrast to other public polling on Perriello’s re-election race. A SurveyUSA poll released last week found Hurt ahead of Perriello, 61 percent to 35 percent.

The Democrats’ polling data dump comes after a blistering New York Times article on Saturday — “Democrats Plan Political Triage to Retain House” — and also as a new Washington Post/ABC News poll out Tuesday further confirmed that Democrats are facing an increasingly tough political climate.

Additional bad news for Democrats was delivered Monday when Roll Call contributing writer Stuart Rothenberg updated his prediction for November by increasing his projected Republican gains to 37 to 42 seats — enough to overtake the 39-seat Democratic majority.

Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report piled on Tuesday morning by announcing that his latest estimate also gives Republicans the majority.

As the DCCC decides the most efficient way to spend its valuable resources over the last two months, the Times article named Democratic Reps. Betsy Markey (Colo.), Mary Jo Kilroy (Ohio), Frank Kratovil (Md.) and Perriello as candidates whom the committee may need to drop from its list of districts to protect.

DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) disputed the story and said the committee has not yet chosen districts to cut off funding from, including those four.

The Post/ABC poll found Republicans statistically tied with Democrats on the question of which party voters trust more to run the country. It was the first time that had happened in four years and came just three months after a poll found Democrats with a 12-point advantage.

The poll also confirmed Gallup’s report last week that Republicans held a 10-point lead in the generic ballot test. Among likely voters, the Post/ABC poll found the GOP ahead by an even larger margin of 13 points.