Polls say Republicans aren’t closing the gap

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released this week shows 51 percent of voters would vote for a Democratic candidate for Congress, while 39 percent would vote for a Republican, if the 2010 elections were held today.

Meanwhile, a CBS News poll released earlier this month shows Democrats leading 46 percent to 33 percent among registered voters. A Gallup poll, conducted the first week of October, showed Democrats with just a two-point edge.

Both polls are big jumps for Democrats after the last two months, in which surveys consistently showed Republicans closing the generic ballot gap. Reputable polls conducted by the Pew Research Center and National Public Radio showed the parties in a statistical dead heat; Democracy Corps, a Democratic polling firm, twice put the Democratic edge at just four points in September.

Republicans continue to lose market share among voters. The Washington Post poll showed just one in five voters were willing to label themselves Republicans, down from a recent high of 29 percent in April 2008. Meanwhile, Democrats win over one-third of all voters, down from 40 percent in March 2008.

But even as the Republican Party loses clout, conservatives remain the dominant ideology in American politics. Thirty-eight percent now call themselves conservative, while 23 percent identify themselves as liberal and 36 say they are moderates.

And those moderates have not shown they are willing to back Democrats just yet. While Democrats lead the generic ballot by 37 percent to 28 percent among independents in the CBS poll, 60 percent of independents say they disapprove of Democrats’ handling of healthcare. Just 18 percent approve.