Huffpost Chicago
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

David Ormsby Headshot

New Poll Says U.S. GOP House Majority Imperiled; Illinois Republican Gains at Risk, Too

Posted: Updated:

The honeymoon is not only over -- voters may be seeking a quickie divorce.

After its first 100 days in power, a new national poll finds that U.S. House Republicans have fallen so far out of fashion with the American public that it is now possible Democrats could take control of the House back next year, and that spells trouble for Illinois Republicans, too.

The poll, conducted from April 7th to April 10th by Public Policy Polling, finds that 43% of voters think that House Republicans are doing a worse job now than the Democrats did, compared to only 36% who think the GOP has brought an improvement.

Now, voters are flirting once again with the folks they just dumped.

Additionally, the poll says that if there was an election for Congress today 46% of voters would vote Democratic, compared to only 41% who would vote Republican. That five point advantage for Democrats is only a hair below the margin Republicans won by in the national popular vote last year.

That's fickle.

A victory of that magnitude for the Democrats next year would at the very least result in the party taking back a large number of the seats it lost last year, and it could be enough to take back the outright majority, according to the pollster.

"The conventional wisdom is that Democrats will have a very hard time winning back control of the House next year," said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling."But that may be wrong -- voters have soured on the new Republican majority in record time."

The key to this move back toward the Democrats are independents. Exit polls showed independents supporting the GOP by a 19 point margin last year at 56-37. Now only 30% of those voters think that the Republican-controlled House is moving things in the right direction, compared to 44% who think things were better with the Democrats.

Given those numbers it's not much of a surprise that independents now say they'd vote Democratic for the House by a 42-33 margin if these was an election today, representing a 28-point reversal in a span of just five months.

That's public opinion whiplash.

Moreover, independent and moderate Republican voters are also souring on their Tea Party sweethearts, according to another recent poll.

"Since last March, the percentage saying they disagree with the movement has grown 15 points while the percentage saying they agree with the Tea Party has remained mostly unchanged," according to a Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey, conducted March 30-April 3, among 1,507 adults. "The rise in negative views of the Tea Party has occurred largely among political independents and Democrats."

Since all politics are local, the national turn against the GOP could cost Illinois Republicans their 2010 meager state legislative electoral gains -- five House seats and two Senate seats -- handing those seats back to the Democrats in 2012 and perhaps some more, possibly creating super-majorities in both chambers.

"Republican extremism nationally is clearly turning off voters, and that national extremism could harm the electoral prospects of the more moderate brand of Illinois Republicans going into the 2012 elections," said Illinois House Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie), the Executive Vice Chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party.

Independents say, by a 49-33, margin that the GOP is extremist and, by a 49-36 margin, that the Democrats are mainstream, according to the Public Policy Survey.

"Whereas the national Democratic brand hurt Illinois Democrats in state legislative races in 2010, a negative national Republican brand could equally undermine local Republicans in legislative contests in 2012," said Lang.

Unless the Washington GOP kisses and makes up with independent voters who brought them to the dance, and dial back their rhetorical blast furnaces, their more moderate Illinois Republican kin will likely be spurned, too.

If not, the breaking up will be hard and swift.