Campaign 2010

Oct 01, 2012

MEMO: Tea Party Wave on Ropes, Control of the House in Play

TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Jesse Ferguson, Communications Director
DATE: October 1, 2012
RE: Tea Party Wave on Ropes, Control of the House in Play

October is the month Congressional races will be won or lost and if this October is anything like how August and September were, House Republicans are going to lose.

Democrats clearly have momentum and the House is in play, entering the most critical month and stretch of the election cycle. The Romney-Ryan ticket is now officially the anchor around the ankles of House Republican candidates and it’s getting heavier every day.

  • In August, the pick of Congressman Paul Ryan made his Medicare-ending budget the ticket mate for every Republican running for Congress and gave us the nationalized Medicare debate we’ve wanted all year.  Then Congressman Todd Akin’s offensive comments reminded voters how extreme Republicans are.
  • Democrats’ momentum continued in September. Mitt Romney’s outrageous closed-door admission to donors that he doesn’t care about half of the country reinforced that Republicans put millionaires first and the middle class last.

Republicans now face a double whammy: A down-ticket drag from Romney’s out-of-touch beliefs and his running mate, Paul Ryan, whose budget ends Medicare and raises health care costs for seniors by $6,400, while giving tax breaks to millionaires. Romney was always going to be a drag in so-called “orphan states” of New York, Illinois and California but his ticket is now trailing in the battleground states of Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania as well.

The national polling has shifted in our favor, fundraising has been strong, and after two game-changing months, it’s clear that Democrats will reverse the Tea Party wave. Even conservative analyst Bill Kristol recently wrote in the Weekly Standard that the Republican Majority may be in jeopardy.  It’s gotten so bad that Republicans have started triaging their races.

Generic Ballot Shifts Toward Democrats

Democrats have a wind at our back and are leading the congressional generic ballot anywhere from about 4 to 6 points. In July and August we were either tied or leading by 1 or 2 points in these same polls. 

  • According to an early August Reuters/Ipsos poll Democrats were tied with Republicans at 46 percent.  In September, this same poll showed Democrats leading by 6 points (49%-43%).
  • Democrats had a 1-point lead (46%-45%) in the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll in July and in August Democrats lead by 5 points (47%-42%).
  • An Economist/YouGov poll in early August (8/11) showed Democrats leading by only 2 points (37%-35%) but a newly released poll showed the lead growing to 5 (42%-37%).

Medicare, Medicare, Medicare

Republicans are losing on the issue of Medicare and if they lose on the issue that is key to seniors and critical to middle class families concerned about retirement security, then they will lose the election.  The Ryan budget that ends Medicare is dominating the earned and paid media in races all across the country. 

  • A new Washington Post/Kaiser poll shows that by an 18-point margin (55%-37%) Americans prefer Medicare to continue as it is today rather than turning it into a voucher system, which the Ryan budget calls for. Nearly 6 in 10 Americans said Congress should reduce the federal deficit without cutting Medicare.
  • The Washington Times headline tells the story: “Ryan’s Medicare Plan Falls Flat with Seniors” and wrote “in choosing Rep. Paul Ryan as their vice presidential nominee, Republicans put his plans to overhaul Medicare front and center in the election campaign, but a [Washington Post/Kaiser] poll…finds his proposal is not very popular with voters — especially among seniors, one of the key GOP voting blocs.”
  • Even former NRCC Chairs and prominent Republican strategists are saying the Ryan budget is causing concerns for Republicans and could cost them

DCCC Outraises NRCC Again

Fueled by record grassroots support from voters who are rejecting Republicans in Congress and the Romney-Ryan ticket, Democrats outraised the NRCC overwhelmingly—by about a 2-to-1 margin—in August.  Despite being in the minority, the DCCC has outraised the NRCC by nearly $12 million this cycle ($127M v. $115.9M) and enters the homestretch of this campaign with strong grassroots supporters who are energized and ready to fire this Tea Party Congress.

Tea Party Backlash

Earlier this month DCCC Chairman Steve Israel and about a dozen top-tier Red to Blue candidates gave a Pink Slip Notice of Termination to the Tea Party Republican Majority – for cause. The Tea Party wave that swept many of the House Republicans into office in 2010 has turned into an anchor pulling them down as the wave has receded. The Tea Party is now seen as a negative by voters, particularly in suburban communities, and as an indicator of extremism. Last week, the DCCC hung a “Fire the Tea Party Congress” banner on the side of the building.

Democrats Leading in the Polls:

Polling clearly shows that Republicans are on defense and are either losing or sinking and Democrats are leading or surging. According to public and internal polling from early August to now, there are 32 top-tier Democratic candidates leading or tied with their Republican opponent.  Races that are competitive are increasingly Democratic and races that were out of reach are now in play. There are now 53 districts in the DCCC’s Red to Blue program – twice as many as we need to win the Majority. There are 75 races in play across the country.  

Take a look at some example polling for yourself:

GOP Losing

  • AZ-09: Kyrsten Sinema leads Republican Vernon Parker by 4 points (45-41%) [House Majority PAC, 9/13/12] and Sinema leads Parker by 5 points (48-43) [DCCC IE, 9/11/12]

  • CA-10: Jose Hernandez leads Congressman Jeff Denham by 2 points (46-44%), [DCCC IVR, 9/10/12]

  • CA-41: Mark Takano leads Republican John Tavaglione by 4 points (42-38%) [Takano campaign poll, 8/12/12] [Riverside Press Enterprise, 8/21/12]

  • CA-47: Alan Lowenthal leads Republican Gary DeLong by 20 points (51-31%) [Lowenthal campaign poll, 8/19/12] [Roll Call, 9/5/12]

  • CT-05: Elizabeth Esty leads Republican Andrew Roraback by 9 points (44-35%) [DCCC IE poll, 8/23/12] [Roll Call, 8/28/12

  • FL-09: Alan Grayson leads Republican Todd Long by 14 points (48-34%) [Grayson campaign poll, 9/21/12]

  • FL-18: Patrick Murphy leads Congressman Allen West by 9 points (52-43%) [Politico, 10/1/12; House Majority PAC Poll, 9/28/12]

  • FL-26: Joe Garcia leads Congressman David Rivera by 9 points (49-40%) [House Majority PAC poll, 9/13/12

  • IL-08: Tammy Duckworth leads Congressman Joe Walsh by 14 points (52-38%) [PPP poll, 9/26/12

  • IL-12: Bill Enyart leads Republican Jason Plummer by 8 points (49-41%) [House Majority PAC poll, 9/13/12] [The Hill, 9/19/12]

  • IL-13: David Gill leads Republican Rodney Davis by 6 points (36-30%) [Gill campaign poll, 8/7/12] [Politico, 8/9/12]

  • MD-06:  John Delaney leads Congressman Roscoe Bartlett by 2 points (44-42%) [House Majority PAC, 7/31/12]

  • MI-01: Gary McDowell leads Congressman Dan Benishek by 9 points (49-40%) [House Majority PAC, 9/20/12]

  • MN-08: Rick Nolan leads Congressman Chip Cravaack by 3 points (47-44%)  [House Majority PAC, 8/27/12] [National Journal, 8/31/12]

  • NH-01: Carol Shea-Porter leads Congressman Frank Guinta by 1 point (48-47%) [PPP poll, 9/25/12] [The Hill, 9/28/12]

  • NH-02: Annie Kuster leads Congressman Charlie Bass by 5 points (51-46%) [PPP poll, 9/25/12] [The Hill, 9/28/12

  • NM-01: Michelle Lujan Grisham leads Republican Janice Arnold-Jones by 12 points (46-34%) [Albuquerque Journal, 9/6/12]

  • NY-24: Dan Maffei leads Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle by 8 points (46-38%) [DCCC IE poll, 9/24/12] [The Auburn Citizen, 9/27/12]

  • TX-23: Pete Gallego leads Congressman Quico Canseco by 5 points (43-38%) [LCV and Sierra Club poll, 9/17/12] [National Journal,9/19/12]

  • WA-06: Derek Kilmer leads Republican Bill Driscoll by 15 points (52-37%) [King 5 News poll, 9/23/12]

GOP Tied and Sinking

  • CA-07: Ami Bera and Congressman Dan Lungren are tied at 47% [HMP Poll, 8/23/12]

  • CA-36: Raul Ruiz and Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack are virtually tied (44-47%) [PPP poll, 9/13/12]

  • CA-52: Scott Peters is tied with Congressman Brian Bilbray (45-45%) [DCCC IE Poll, 8/7/12]

  • CO-06: Joe Miklosi is virtually tied with Congressman Mike Coffman (39-42) [DCCC IVR, 9/13/12]

  • IA-04: Christie Vilsack and Congressman Steve King are virtually tied (44-46%) [Vilsack campaign poll, 9/25/12], (45-48%) [Ames Tribune poll, 9/25/12]

  • IL-10: Brad Schneider and Congressman Robert Dold are tied at 46% [House Majority PAC, 8/12/12]

  • IL-11: Bill Foster and Congresswoman Judy Biggert are essentially tied (42-43%) [Foster campaign poll, 8/29/12]

  • IL-17: Cheri Bustos is virtually tied with Congressman Bobby Schilling (45-47%) [Bustos campaign poll, 9/26/12]

  • MN-06: Jim Graves is essentially tied with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (46-48%) [Graves campaign poll, 8/30/12]

  • NY-18: Sean Patrick Maloney and Congresswoman Nan Hayworth are tied at 43% [PPP poll, 9/20/12]

  • OH-06: Charlie Wilson and Congressman Bill Johnson are tied at 46% [Wilson campaign poll, 9/12/12]

  • WI-07: Pat Kreitlow and Congressman Duffy are virtually tied (44-48%) [PPP poll, 9/25/12]

Strong Democratic Incumbents

  • IA-03: Congressman Leonard Boswell is tied with Congressman Tom Latham at 45% [Benenson Strategy Group, 9/20/12]

  • KY-06: Ben Chandler leads Andy Barr by 14 points (51%-37%) [Chandler Internal Poll, 9/19/12] [MyCN2, 9/19/12

  • MA-06: Congressman John Tierney leads Republican Richard Tisei by 12 points (46-34%) [NPR poll, 9/10/12]

  • NY-21: Congressman Bill Owens leads Republican Matt Doheny by 13 points (49-36%) [Siena poll, 9/10/12]

  • NY-25: Congresswoman Louise Slaughter leads Republican Maggie Brooks by 10 points (52-42%) [Siena poll, 9/27/12]

  • PA-12: Congressman Mark Critz leads Republican Keith Rothfus by 11 points (52-41%) [DCCC IE poll, 9/25/12]

  •  RI-01: Congressman David Cicilline leads Republican Brendan Doherty by 10 points (46-36%) [Cicilline campaign poll, 9/18/12]

Races Moving Our Way. 
As the national environment has changed and the Democratic campaigns have gained momentum, the leading evaluators of Congressional races have started moving more and more in our direction.

  • AZ-02: (Congressman Ron Barber vs. Republican Martha McSally) Leans Democrat Likely Democrat [Cook Report]

  • CA-16: (Congressman Jim Costa vs. Brian Whelan) Likely Democrat Solid Democrat [Cook Report]

  • CA-26: (OPEN-Julia Brownley vs. Republican Tony Strickland) Tilt Republican/Toss Up Toss Up  [Rothenberg Political Report]

  • CA-36: (Raul Ruiz vs. Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack) vs. Likely Republican Lean Republican [UVA Center for Politics]

  • CA-47: (OPEN-Alan Lowenthal vs. Gary DeLong) Leans Democrat Likely Democrat [UVA Center for Politics]

  • CA-52: (Scott Peters vs. Congressman Brian Bilbray) Toss Up  Leans Democrat [UVA Center for Politics]

  • CO-06: (Joe Miklosi vs. Congressman Mike Coffman) Leans Republican Toss Up [UVA Center for Politics]

  • FL-09: (NEW, Alan Grayson vs. Republican Todd Long) Leans Democrat Democrat Favored [Rothenberg Political Report]

  • FL-26: (Joe Garcia vs. Congressman David Rivera) Lean Republican Lean Democrat [UVA Center for Politics]

  • IA-04: (Christie Vilsack vs. Congressman Steve King) Leans Republican Tilt Republican /Toss up [Rothenberg Report]

  • IN-08: (Dave Crooks vs. Congressman Larry Bucshon) Likely Republican Lean Republican [UVA Center for Politics]

  • ME-02: (Congressman Mike Michaud vs. Republican Kevin Raye) Likely Democrat Solid Democrat [Cook Report]

  • MI-01: (Gary McDowell vs. Congressman Dan Benishek) Tilt Republican /Toss Up Toss Up [Rothenberg Political Report]

  • MN-06: (Michele Bachmann vs. Jim Graves) Safe Republican Likely Republican [UVA Center for Politics]

  • NC-07: (Mike McIntyre vs. Republican David Rouzer) Leans Republican Toss Up [UVA Center for Politics]

  • NH-02: (Annie Kuster vs. Congressman Charlie Bass) Toss Up  Lean Democrat [Cook Report]

  • NM-01: (OPEN- Michelle Lujan Grisham vs. Republican Janice Arnold-Jones) Likely Democrat Safe Democrat [UVA Center for Politics]

  • NY-11: (Mark Murphy vs. Congressman Michael Grimm) Likely Republican Leans Republican [UVA Center for Politics]

  • NY-18: (Sean Patrick Maloney vs. Congresswoman Nan Hayworth) Tilt Republican /Toss Up Toss Up [Rothenberg Political Report]

  • NY-25: (Congresswoman Louise Slaughter vs. Republican Maggie Brooks) Leans Democrat Likely Democrat[UVA Center for Politics]

  • OH-16: (Congresswoman Betty Sutton vs. Congressman Jim Renacci) Tilt Republican /Toss Up Toss Up  [Rothenberg Report]

  • PA-12: (Congressman Mark Critz vs. Keith Rothfus) Toss Up Leans Democrat [UVA Center for Politics]

  • RI-01: (Congressman David Cicilline vs. Republican Brendan Doherty) Toss Up Leans Democrat

  • SD-AL: (Matt Varilek vs. Congresswoman Kristi Noem) Solid Republican Likely Republican [Cook Report]

  • UT-04: (Congressman Jim Matheson vs. Republican Mia Love) Tilt Republican /Toss Up Toss Up

Air War and Republican Triage Begins

Democrats are exposing Republicans on the airwaves with hard-hitting ads exposing Republicans who supported or voted for the Ryan budget that ends Medicare and forces seniors to pay more for health care to give more tax breaks for millionaires. 

The DCCC has reserved over $65 million in airtime through Election Day. By comparison the NRCC has reserved over $47 million. 

Republicans have begun to triage their incumbents – deciding not to come in and support deeply troubled incumbents like Congressman Frank Guinta (NH-01), David Rivera (FL-26) and Roscoe Bartlett (MD-06) according to two recent news reports. [Washington Times, 9/27/12; The Hill,9/26/12]

Bottom Line

The House is in play and the Republican Majority is in jeopardy with 5 weeks left until Election Day. From a shift in the national environment toward Democrats to the double down-ballot drag caused by Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan, Republicans are in trouble and Democrats are on offense and forcing Republicans to defend the indefensible: their agenda that puts millionaires first and Medicare and the middle class last. All of this adds up to a daunting scenario for Republicans entering the final stretch of this campaign: Democrats have momentum, are on the move, and are in position to reverse the Tea Party wave.

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