Polls: 12 House pickup chances for Democrats

October 27, 2011

New polls out Thursday of 12 House districts now held by Republicans in four states showcase some prime pickup opportunities for Democrats next year.

The House Majority PAC, which can raise unlimited money to support Democratic candidates with an independent expenditure campaign, commissioned Public Policy Polling to survey 12 districts where the redistricting process has been completed.

In every one, less than 50 percent of voters said they would like to see the incumbent Republican reelected next year. And a majority in all but one expressed a negative opinion of the Republicans in Congress.

Ali Lapp, executive director of House Majority PAC, argues that “Republican control of the House is in serious jeopardy.”

Redistricting in Arkansas, California, Illinois and Wisconsin – where PPP polled the dozen districts – could help Democrats.

Some Republicans who have not faced competitive races in years now face serious trouble. Illinois Rep. Tim Johnson, for example, has been drawn by the Democratic legislature into a treacherous district where just 33 percent of voters would like to reelect him, according to the new poll, while 53 percent would prefer someone else.

“Congressional Republicans have become very unpopular, very fast, across a very wide variety of districts and that’s going to make dozens of incumbent GOP members vulnerable for reelection next year,” PPP director Tom Jensen, a respected Democratic pollster, writes in a three-page memo.

Democrats face a very heavy lift to get the 25 seats they need to regain a majority. That kind of turnover is rare, and Republicans have solidified their holds on certain seats in states where they controlled the redistricting process. Historically, the kind of turnover from the last three election cycles is very rare, yet polls like these give Democrats confidence.

“We feel like the House is truly in play next year,” Lapp said. “The opportunities will be there.”

Other districts show low percentages of voters who would “like to reelect” their current Republican member. It’s 43% for Rick Crawford (AR-1), 44% for Tim Griffin (AR-2), 43% for Dan Lungren (CA-7), 38% for Jeff Denham (CA-10), 42% for Elton Gallegly (CA-26), 43% for Mary Bono Mack (CA-36), 42% for Brian Bilbray (CA-52), 42% for Bob Dold (IL-10), 41% for Judy Biggert (IL-11), 39% for Bobby Schilling (IL-17) and 43% for Sean Duffy (WI-7).

The results, which were first reported in POLITICO’s Morning Score, illuminate the unpopularity of incumbents in both parties, as 2012 could very well be the country’s four change election in a row.

These individual surveys come two weeks after an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll gave Democrats a 45-41 advantage on the generic ballot.

The PPP surveys, conducted between October 19-23, have a margin of error of between 2.3 percent and 4.4 percent.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified the number of districts surveyed that expressed a negative view of Republicans in Congress.