LCG Election Monitor: Midterms are an electoral hurricane for Democrats

The race is on. No, I’m not referring to the one between Republicans and Democrats; instead, I’m talking about the race between pollsters and media organizations to project this November’s GOP margin of victory. There have been some pretty smart analyses produced over the last several weeks, including ones by Cook, Rothenberg, RealClearPolitics, FiveThirtyEight and, most recently, the vaunted NBC political unit with its Voter Confidence Index.

However, in the quest to compare this year to other “wave” elections (see 1994, 1982 and 1974) they may have all missed the most important phenomenon of all: the growth rate of this potential electoral hurricane. We have all been so concerned about looking at this as some fixed point in time — by, for example, trying to compare this year to elections that took place 30 and 40 years ago — that we have forgotten to look back just 90 days ago. When one does, the only conclusion that you can have is the following: we are seeing an intensifying political storm that for Democrats is the electoral equivalent of a catastrophic hurricane.

First, here’s a quick primer on hurricanes. According to climatologists, hurricanes can release an amount of energy in one day equal to all of the electricity generated across the globe in 200 days. Hurricanes also keep building as long as they keep getting energy from warm water. Hurricanes strengthen via the temperature of the water: the hotter the water, the more strength it gains. But if a hurricane moves over land or colder water, it starts to fizzle out.

Just like climatological hurricanes, an electoral hurricane is fed by an energy source. In politics this energy source is usually voter anger and frustration with the status quo. The Tea Party movement is one byproduct of this energy (to further this analogy, wind and rain are by-products of regular hurricanes). So the question is will this political hurricane continue to feed off the warm water of voter anger, or will those waters cool a bit as we get closer to shore (Election Day)?

To judge, let’s look at how this storm has intensified over the last 200 days.

We examined five key measures of voter anger: the percentage of voters who say the country is on the “wrong track,” the President’s disapproval rating, Congressional disapproval rating, the Generic Congressional ballot share for the party out of power (GOP) and the Party ID for the out-of-power party (GOP). All of these are negative measures for Democrats; that is, the higher the number the worse for the Democratic Party. (All data is from Pollster.com monthly averages for registered voters.) We then simply calculated the sum of these negative measures, which we will call — trumpets please — the LCG Voter Anger Index.

As you will note from the table below, the Voter Anger Index score in February of this year was 246. In May it rose to 250 and in August it stood at 259. In the last 90 days it has risen 9 points. The lesson here is not just that anger is high, it is that it is increasing with each passing day/week/month. The water temperature is not cooling; instead, it is getting warmer and feeding the storm. If it increases another 20 points by Election Day, the result would be catastrophic for the Democratic Party. We are talking about a 50 – 60 seat loss in the House and loss of the Senate.

November 1994 February 2010 May 2010 August 2010
Wrong track 62% 56% 59% 59%
Presidential disapproval 42% 47% 47% 51%
Congressional disapproval 65% 67% 66% 69%
Generic ballot share for out-of-power party 41% 44% 44% 45%
Party ID for out-of-power party 35% 32% 34% 36%
LCG Voter Anger Index 245 246 250 259

When we look at this from a historical perspective, we see that the anger level in February was already equal to 1994. In August of this year the Voter Anger Index was a full 14 points (or 6%) higher than it was in November of 1994. It is also important to note that this index is based on registered voters. Our assumption is that voter anger is even higher among likely voters and the measures we’ve seen — like the generic ballot — do suggest that.

Hurricanes are named. We all remember Katrina. For really destructive storms, the World Meteorological Organization sometimes takes names off the list. People don’t want to see the name again. Democrats might soon want to have this year’s election removed from the history books as well.

NEXT: On the current political environment

  • SamAdams25

    I have to agree with J Baustian that the more Joe Biden and John Kerry insult mainstream Americans who disagree with Leftist policy as being ignorant and misinformed, the more they alienate those folks. The accusations that the Tea Parties are ignorant racist bigots have only increased anger and hardened resolve. I believe it has increased support for the Tea Parties, and reinforced the arrogant elitist mantle of the “progressives” (socialists).

    • barryaz

      Well said on both of your parts. I am tired of these elitist politicians trying to tell me what is best for me because I am too uninformed or naive to really know what is going on. Then to put the icing on the cake they want me to believe they will be doing me a possible favor by maybe extending the Bush tax cuts for us little people. Again, they are using the class warfare game making it sound like they are for us “little people” and those greedy bankers or Wall Street types will be taxed more. Are you kidding me? When does it make sense to increase any taxes at a time when the economy is flat. To make matters worse we all know the so-called rich can afford to hire tax attorneys (except turbo tax Timmy)to find all the loop holes and deductions possible. Plus, these are the people who are paying the most taxes to begin with. Where does it make sense for someone who is not working, getting welfare, and at the end of the year get a tax refund when they paid no taxes to begin with. The entire tax code needs to be burned and the FAIR TAX enacted. I, for one, am tired of paying for other people to not work, pay for sub-standard schools, and watch people game the system.

  • grayzel

    “I believe that the reason this false premise is allowed to persist is because the true conservatives are the wealthiest amongst us, it is only in their interest to keep the status quo. After all what are the tenets of conservatism? Adherence to the Constitution is one of their favorites, a document that was written by a group of all white male property owners. Imagine if we had not amended the Constitution the state we would be in. Another one they like to espouse is smaller government, which is a euphemism for lower taxes. Then of course there are family values, but those values are “their” family values. Which anyone familiar with the family histories of the rich and powerful would almost surely scoff at the idea of emulating.” by Forgiven (I didn’t know I was rich and all rich people have bad family values. Grayzel)

    “Over the course of the last few decades we have seen an erosion of the media into this obvious propaganda machine and all have played a role….” “There is no compromise or middle ground between right and wrong and good or evil. These outlets are being controlled by conservative wealthy people who behind the scenes manipulate these same outlets into offering up these ridiculous ideas and theories as legitimate alternatives.” Forgiven (MSNBC has conservative owners pushing the propaganda of the left? Grayzel)

    This is a good article to point out the fallacy of the the Kool-aid left. Than you for posting the link.

    • 15minutes

      Glad to shine a light. I’m still trying to picture latte sipping, birkenstock conservatives looking out the window thinking 13 states are okay because it looks dangerous out there.

  • 15minutes

    After nearly a century of masquerading as populists, the socialists are finally out of the closet. America is not joining with them, as was expected when their messiah won the election. Instead, America is angry at being ruled and not governed.

    This week the Barry and Joe show hit the road to drum up votes from the anointed faithful. For a snapshopt of the thinking that we’re up against, enjoy this piece from DK by Forgiven. I’ve often thought that, when it comes to reasoning skills, they need to raise the bar a little over at DK. This piece demonstrates that they need to get it off the ground first.

    Here’s a sample: “If we were a conservative people we would still only have 13 states. Conservative people do not explore and homestead in the wilderness. Conservative people do not leave their safety and cross mountains, deserts, and rivers.”

    For the entire rant go here: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/9/27/905611/-America-is-Not-a-Conservative-Nation

    One assumes that this essay has powerfully nullified the possibility that in 5 weeks the democrats are getting seriously spanked by the voters.

  • J Baustian

    It is getting harder to find _rational_ people who admit to being Democrats… they may still intend to vote Democratic, but they are reluctant to admit it.

    There are still a great many leftwing loons out there, but they mostly rely on ad hominem attacks and tend to alienate independent voters. So Republicans have that going for them too.