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James Carville: Are we facing a GOP takeover in 2014?

Greg Nash

Democrats, myself included, tend to respect and value expertise, and find that people who have established a record of accuracy and developed a model that’s proven to be beneficial over time should be people accorded great deference when they opine on a topic that they have demonstrated past mastery over. 

You don’t hear complaints about skewered polls, global cooling, tax cuts paying for themselves, people riding dinosaurs and other silly crap like that from Democrats. So that is why it’s disturbing news that David Wasserman, from The Cook Political Report, who is a smart person’s idea of what a smart person sounds like, recently changed his House rating’s model toward favoring Republicans. 538.com’s Nate Silver’s recent commentary that Republicans have a 60 percent chance of a Senate takeover is similarly disconcerting. The reasons are plentiful and valid; the obvious ones are that we’re in the sixth year of the presidential term, there’s a tepid presidential approval rating, we’re seeing high wrong-track numbers, and we’re facing an unfavorable map. In the past these numbers have proven to have a great deal of validity.

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There are a couple of things that I think should give Republicans a dash of caution and the Democrats a teaspoon of hope. Looking at the just released ABC/Washington Post poll, which also has a solid reputation, we find that the Democratic Party is viewed favorably by 49 percent and the Republican Party at — hold your breath — 35 percent. Now ponder this for a second: in essence, in what other endeavor would you be selling something attached to a brand so unpopular and expect success? And yet so many people conclude that how people view a political party has nothing to do with their vote. By the way, these have to be among historically high numbers for party favorability differential. 

The favorable differential is reflected in self-described party ID. Remember, pollsters said long ago not to pay as much attention to how a voter is registered as how a voter identifies him or herself. According to the ABC/Washington Post poll, 32 percent of Americans identify themselves as Democrats versus only 22 percent who claim to be Republicans. Other polls, including from Democracy Corps, have shown similar gaps in both party image and self-described political identification. I do not doubt that Wasserman and Silver have arrived at their consensus out of anything other than a high degree of professionalism. I just wonder why they are placing such a large bet on a party that so few people like and even less want to identify with. 

 

Carville is a political contributor for Fox News and ARISE News. He also serves as a professor at Tulane University in New Orleans, where he lives with his wife, Republican strategist Mary Matalin. His column will appear twice a month in The Hill.

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