By JOHN FUND As Election Day draws closer, every major public opinion poll shifts from interviewing registered voters to those whom it identifies as "likely" voters. Gallup, the oldest U.S. polling company, first developed the model it uses for identifying likely voters back in 1950 and its final election polls have proven highly accurate.
Yesterday, Gallup delivered its first 2010 "likely voter" poll and the results floored the political community. In the generic ballot question, which asks which party a voter would favor in a generic House contest, Gallup gave the GOP a 46% to 42% edge. But then Gallup applied two versions of its "likely voter" turnout model. In its "high turnout model," Republicans led Democrats by 53% to 40%. In its "low turnout model," the GOP edge was a stunning 56% to 38%. That kind of margin in favor of Republicans has never been seen in Gallup surveys.
What should worry Democrats most is that the "low turnout model" is typical of recent midterm elections. If the Gallup numbers hold up (and the firm cautions that "the race often tightens in the final month of the campaign"), some word more cataclysmic than "tsunami" would be needed for the Democratic losses.