It's about the Republicans, stupid

Gallup says that voters are thinking nationally.

By Tim Grieve

Published October 23, 2006 8:53PM (EDT)

With two weeks and a day to go before the midterm elections, a new USA Today/Gallup poll is undercutting two bits of conventional wisdom about congressional races.

All politics are local: Forty-three percent of the likely voters surveyed said that "national issues" will make the biggest difference in how they vote on Nov. 7. That's the highest number Gallup has ever recorded, and it isn't good news for Republicans hoping to make the election something other than a referendum on George W. Bush.

People like their own representative even if they don't like Congress: Thirty-eight percent of Gallup's likely voters said the member of Congress from their district doesn't deserve another term in Washington -- another all-time high, and another dose of bad news for Republicans with a whole lot of nervous incumbents to defend.

The poll results aren't entirely gloomy for House Republicans. While Democrats continue to lead Republicans in Gallup's generic ballot matchups, the gap between the two has narrowed. Democrats held a 23-point advantage in the last Gallup poll, and they lead by just 13 percentage points now. "Just" is a relative word here: As USA Today notes, the Democrats' 13-point lead matches the one Gallup saw for Republicans in October 1994.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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