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Here’s a headline you probably weren’t expecting: “Most Expect GOP Victory In November”. It goes with this week’s poll by Associated Press-GfK, which included the following stats:
- 55% of likely voters are now assuming Republicans will take over the Senate, an 8-point gain from September.
- 25% of Democrats think it’s going to happen, a 7-point gain in the past month.
- 47% of likely voters favor a Republican-controlled Congress versus 39% who want Democrats in charge. A month ago, it was an even divide.
- 44% of women prefer Republicans, versus 42% for Democrats. A month ago, women favored Democrats by a 47%-40% edge.
It’s a reverse from the 2012 campaign, when most voters expected President Obama to win a second term and Mitt Romney’s supporters were more pessimistic than those on the Democratic side.
Other examples of perception being in line with election reality:
- In 2008, 52% of voters expected Obama to win a first term, compared to only 41% for John McCain (Obama would win, 52.9%-45.7%).
- In 2004, despite John Kerry’s getting off to a good start in the first of the three presidential debates, 60% of independents still believed George W. Bush would be re-elected (exit polls showed the candidates splitting the independent vote).
There may be a simple explanation to much of this: media narrative.
Two years ago, in the final weeks of the campaign the predominant story lines were Romney’s struggles on the campaign trail (i.e., the 47% remark) and the GOP’s uphill climb in capturing 270 electoral votes.
The predominant story lines in 2014: (a) Obama’s unpopularity; (b) Democrats on the defensive, trying to prevent a GOP Senate takeover by resorting to such tactical maneuvers as shunning the President; (c) whether Republicans once again can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
On top of that, name the last time this year — or 2013, for that matter — that Obama “won” the weekly news cycle. Instead, each week seems to bring with it a set of troubles foreign, domestic, or both.
Meanwhile, here’s some more fuel to feed the manifest destiny fire:
- Wall Street is expecting a good night for Republicans — keep an eye on the trading of defense stocks and medical-device makers, two potential winners in a GOP Senate.
- Polls point to a GOP turnout advantage — per a survey released this week by Fox News, 45% of Republicans described themselves as “extremely” interested in the election, versus only 30% of Democrats.
- Some media outlets already are trying to spin a good GOP election as damaged goods — for example, this New Yorker piece on why “an empty victory beckons” for Republicans.
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