GOP pulls ahead with slight lead in generic ballot

Republicans have taken the lead over Democrats in Gallup's latest generic ballot poll, released Thursday.

By a 47 to 44 percent margin, those polled favor the Republicans, the first time the party has lead the Democrats since Gallup started asking the question earlier this month. The number falls just within the poll's 3 percent margin of error.

The survey was taken from March 22-28, after Democrats in Congress passed the $940 billion healthcare overhaul. In the aftermath of the vote, Democrats claimed the momentum in Capitol Hill and said they would talk up the benefits of the the law as a means of winning votes in the fall.

But Gallup analysts say that the poll shows that touting the law could still pose political risks for the Democrats.

"The shift toward Republicans raises the possibility that the healthcare bill had a slightly negative impact on the Democrats' political fortunes in the short run," they wrote.

Voter enthusiasm is also up for both parties, but the Republicans hold a significant lead there as well, 50 percent to 35 percent. Last week, those figures were at 43 percent and 25 percent for th GOP and Democrats respectively. 

"Over the past four midterm elections, the party with the net advantage in enthusiasm has typically been the one to gain congressional seats in the election," Gallup analysts wrote, though it is not clear that it will translate to Republicans taking enough seats to win back the House.