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Slate Update & the Majority Watch Surveys

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Our Slate Election Scorecard update tonight focuses on two new polls in New Jersey that confirm recent gains by Bob Menendez and move the race to lean Democrat status. The overall scorecard tally now indicates 49 seats leaning or held by Democrats, 49 seats held or leaning Republican.  Is this change indicative of a larger Democratic surge?

Two new polls out this evening from Survey USA in Ohio and Missouri both show the Democratic candidates in each state leading by much wider margins than on other recent polls. These results and the sometimes improbably wide Democratic margins on the generic House ballot in some recent national surveys leave some wondering whether, as reader Gary Kilbride put it in a comment a few hours ago, "the current poll numbers skew misleadingly toward Democrats due to the Foley scandal." He wonders if the same might be happening to the Majority Watch congressional district results released today.

I will have more to say about all of this tomorrow, but for tonight one quick note about those new Majority Watch congressional surveys. Although they released results from 32 districts today, only nine involved follow-up surveys in districts polled previously using comparable ballot tests. The table below shows the August and October results for those nine districts.


All of these Districts are currently represented by Republicans and all were rated as toss-ups by the Cook Political Report when the polls went into the field (they moved CO-07 to lean Democratic status just yesterday). While Tom Riehle's analysis made much of the apparent Republican improvement in Washington-08, Virginia-02 and Indiana-02, the overall pattern looks more random. Those Republican advances were largely offset by Democratic gains in North Carolina-11 and New Mexico-01. Overall, the average Democratic margin declined by just a single percentage point.

The bigger story may be that the average Republican percentage across these nine districts has not budged from 46% since August or that none of the Republicans in the nine districts holds a statistically significant lead.  More on the meaning of these House polls tomorrow.