Friday, December 27, 2013

Can The House Be Flipped In 2014 ?

The charts above were made with information contained in a recent survey done by Quinnipiac University. The Quinnipiac University Poll was completed between December 3rd and 9th, and questioned 2,692 registered voters nationwide (with a margin of error of 1.9 points).

At first glance, the two charts seem to be saying opposite things. As the bottom chart shows, the public is mad at both parties -- but they have even less respect for the congressional Republicans than the congressional Democrats (19% approval for Republicans and 27% for Democrats). But the top chart shows that a small plurality (41%) say they would vote for the Republican in their own House District, while 38% say they would vote for the Democrat.

How can this be? Why would a plurality choose to vote Republican when the Republicans have an approval level of 8 points less than Democrats? Does this mean the Democrats can't flip the House in 2014?

We must understand that this poll is the result of respondents across the nation, and not necessarily the result in particular districts. It could easily be skewed by results from heavily Republican districts. The truth is that there are a lot of districts that are not really in play for the next election. There are some districts that will go to the Republicans because those districts have a heavy Republican majority, and there are other districts that will go to the Democrats because those districts have a heavy Democratic majority.

Control of the House will not be decided by the districts discussed above, but by the numerous districts that are competitive (meaning that neither party has a real advantage in party members living in that district). And the winner in those districts will be largely determined by who the Independents favor. That's where the bottom chart gives the Democrats an advantage.

And the reason the Democrats have that advantage is because the public generally supports the Democratic position on most issues -- issues like increasing revenue by making corporations pay their taxes, increasing taxes slightly on the rich, creating jobs through infrastructure rebuilding, and protecting the benefits offered by Social Security and Medicare. The GOP is opposed to the public's views on all of these issues -- and Democrats need to make sure the voters know that, especially in those competitive swing districts.

And there is one more issue that could help the Democrats flip the House -- raising the minimum wage. Huge majorities of Americans have indicated in poll after poll (including this Quinnipiac Poll, as illustrated below) that they want the minimum wage raised significantly. Congressional Republicans have made it clear they oppose raising the minimum wage, and many of them would abolish the minimum wage completely. This issue, combined with those listed above, could be the issues that give Democrats the edge in those swing districts.

I still believe the Democrats can flip the House in the next election, if they can do two things -- campaign heavily on the issues I have named, and make sure they turn out the vote.

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