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Boo! Halloween for Democrats comes early with spooky poll numbers

It's scary times for Democrats. Some 100 House seats are now in play – almost all of them held by Democratic incumbents. And one-quarter of Obama's 2008 supporters are defecting to the GOP.

By Staff writer / October 17, 2010

President Obama and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick wave to the crowd during a campaign rally for Patrick at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010.

Michael Dwyer/AP


With Halloween approaching, it’s not goblins and witches and ghosts that Democrats have to fear. It’s mere numbers – poll numbers. And for majority Democrats in Congress and President Obama, those numbers are very spooky indeed.

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National Public Radio’s “Battleground Survey” out Friday finds that “Republicans have a significant edge in November in competitive US congressional districts.” The number of House districts considered to be battlegrounds has increased from about 70 in June to nearly 100 in October – the vast majority held by Democrats.

Similarly, the Rothenberg Political Report puts the number of House seats in play at 100, 91 held by Democrats and just nine by Republicans.

To the extent that midterm congressional races are seen as a test of the Obama administration, the news there for Democrats is mixed – at best.

President Obama’s job approval ratings have averaged 26 points higher than Congress’s approval ratings, according to Gallup. That’s better than 4 out of the last 5 presidents. (George H.W. Bush is the exception.)

But an Associated Press-Knowledge Networks poll finds that one-quarter of those who voted for Obama in 2008 “are defecting to the GOP or considering voting against the party in power this fall.”

“Just half of them say they definitely will show up Nov. 2,” reports the AP. Which is why Obama and first lady Michelle Obama (whose approval ratings are higher than her husband’s) are blitzing the country at get-out-the-vote campaign rallies and fund raisers.

"There is no doubt that this is a difficult election,” Obama said Saturday at a campaign rally in Boston for Gov. Deval Patrick.

It’s not just the numbers, it’s who pollsters now are focusing on that may be giving Democrats the creeps.

In his latest online column, independent political prognosticator Charlie Cook notes that most media polling organizations have switched from “registered voters” to “likely voters” in who they survey, “revealing more than in earlier polls … just how bad the terrain is for Democrats.”