The sizable lead among registered voters Democrats have maintained since the 2006 midterm elections has eroded to almost nothing. In the latest Gallup poll, Dems have just a 2-point advantage over Republicans going into the 2010 midterms, 46% to 44%, well within the sampling error. That’s down from a 6-point lead in July, due mostly to a decrease in support from independents.
The erosion of independent support is particularly striking. Ahead of the presidential election, 46% went for Dems compared to 39% for GOP candidates. In July, the numbers were 42%-43%; in October, 36%-45%. If that trend isn’t enough to spook Democratic office seekers, Congress as a whole has a dismal 21% approval rating, usually a harbinger of significant losses for the majority party. Sub-30% approval numbers preceded both the GOP takeover in 1994 and the Democratic win in 2006.