PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup Daily tracking for the week ending April 11 puts Republicans slightly ahead of Democrats, 48% to 44%, in the congressional voting preferences of registered voters nationally. This marks the third week since the U.S. House passed healthcare reform on March 21 that the Republicans have tied or led the Democrats.
Gallup's measure of voter support for the two parties' congressional candidates asks respondents whether they would back the Republican candidate or the Democratic candidate in their own district if the election were held today. The results -- when based on likely voters shortly before Election Day -- have proved, historically, to be a highly accurate predictor of the national two-party vote. This, in turn, bears a close relationship to the post-election party division of House seats.
The trend based on registered voters shows how rare it is for the Republicans to lead on this "generic ballot" measure among all registered voters, as they do today. Other recent exceptions were recorded in 1994 -- when Republicans wrested majority control from the Democrats for the first time in 40 years -- and 2002, when the GOP achieved seat gains, a rarity for the president's party in midterm elections. In midterm years when Democrats prevailed at the polls (such as 2006, 1990, and 1986), their net support among registered voters typically extended into double digits at several points during the year -- something that has yet to happen in 2010.
Gallup will not begin identifying likely voters for the 2010 midterms until later in the year. However, at this early stage, Republicans show much greater enthusiasm than Democrats about voting in the elections. Enthusiasm among members of both parties peaked shortly after passage of the healthcare reform bill on March 21, but has since tapered off slightly.
Gallup tracks congressional voting preferences daily and reports the results on a weekly basis on the Election 2010 Key Indicators page.
Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,613 registered voters, aged 18 and older, conducted April 5-11, 2010, as part of Gallup Daily tracking. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones and cellular phones.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.