Poll: GOP has edge in most competitive Democratic seats

Republicans maintain an edge over Democrats in some of the most highly contested congressional districts, a new poll found Friday.

GOP candidates have a four-point edge among likely voters in the 53 most competitive congressional districts held by Democrats, and they’re tied with Democrats in an additional 33 seats that make up a group of the next-most-competitive Democratic-held seats, the new NPR Battleground Survey found.

Forty-eight percent of voters on the first “tier” said they planned on voting Republican on Nov. 2, while 44 percent said they planned to back a Democrat. The voters in this tier reside in 53 currently Democratic seats rated as “likely Republican,” “lean Republican” or “toss-up” by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. Five percent were undecided.

Voters in a series of 33 Democratic seats rated as “lean Democratic” are split over their preference in the elections, at 45 percent apiece. Ten percent were undecided.

Republicans, meanwhile, maintain a hefty seven-point lead in 10 of their seats rated the most vulnerable. Forty-nine percent of Republican voters in those districts plan to vote for their GOP candidates, and 42 percent will back Democrats, with 9 percent undecided.

The results give a sense of the broad swath of districts in which Republicans hope to be competitive this fall, and offer a better sense of the electoral map than perhaps the national generic congressional ballot allows. Those polls are a good test of the national mood, but also include voters who might reside in safely Democratic or Republican districts.

If Republicans were to win most of the seats in the “tier one” districts alone, that’d be enough to hand them the House, where they need a net gain of 39 seats to take back the majority. If they were to pick off even some of the “tier two” seats, and hold the 10 districts that the NPR poll tested, they could add to the margin of their majority in the House after the elections.

The poll, conducted Oct. 7-0, has a 4.6 percent margin of error for tier-one districts, a 4.6 percent margin of error in tier-two districts and a 5.66 margin of error in the Republican districts.

View the poll results below:

NPR Battleground Survey – October 7-10, 2010
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