The Dems use them religiously and are starting to believe they are indicative of a positive outcome, for them. The GOP isn't much different in poll usage and its leadership has to know that according to these polls, this a distinct possibility.
As I have said before, opinion polls do not count for much of anything, if you really think about it. They do not seat elected officials. Elections do. All they do, is create a snapshot of how people feel at that particular point in time and measure popularity (or lack of), in a moment that people cannot cast that vote. But the pols rely very heavily on these tools, despite this fact. So to understand where I am going with this, let's look at a clip from the first link I have provided, at WaPo:
Democratic leaders, increasingly confident they will seize control of the House in November, are laying plans for a legislative blitz during their first week in power that would raise the minimum wage, roll back parts of the Republican prescription drug law, implement homeland security measures and reinstate lapsed budget deficit controls.
Today, we are six months out from the general election.
Yet, the Democrats are starting to become a bit smug about the unfavorable ratings that come out week after week, excoriating both the President and Congress, despite the fact that disapproval ratings apply to them, as well. I mean, who says that the person being polled (the ones that says they disapprove of how Congress is doing) likes Pelosi's performance, any better than say, Dennis Hastert's?
Yes, Hastert is in power, but the polls rarely reflect this variable. In fact, the polls are very often skewed by leaving out critical information of this nature. Let's look at this clip from an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, at RCP:
There are lots of ways to look at public-opinion polls, all of them flawed. Almost no topic stuffed with numbers is so rife with ambiguity, so ripe for overinterpretation, so vulnerable to bias. The act of examining poll numbers is neither art nor science. It is something less than each of those.
So, what does this mean?
The Dems are getting confident. By the time November rolls around, maybe they will be overconfident. You have to admit, they sure portrayed that image in 2004. So much so, that many had hung their heads in disbelief when it was known that the President was re-elected. Some didn't accept it and started with the "GOP stole the election" rhetoric, almost immediately. But for those that did accept it, there was a marked spike in Democrats going to therapists immediately after their loss was realized.
I would not be so bold to say that the Dems have no chance, though. They do.
People are not happy with the GOP and that includes many that are party people. And in this weak two party system, there isn't much of a choice for them, other than the Dems. Even those that won't/don't vote for a Democrat and may cast their vote for a lesser known party as a protest, can still affect the election. They can still put Democrats in office, without even voting for them.
But if the Dems think they are going to waltz into office by using their past two platforms, which were nothing more than accusations, they are not going to win. They cannot keep beating the Abu Ghraib, no WMDs, and the domestic surveillance programs stories (over and over) and expect the American electorate to embrace them anymore than they have, in the recent past. Moderates (the ones that swing elections) will not buy into that. They didn't in 04, they won't this year, and for sure it will not work in 08.
And the Republicans had better do some serious re-tooling and re-thinking. They had better stop wasting time and start getting some things done. You know what I mean, the the things that they said they would do if they were elected/re-elected. Social Security, cut spending, and so on. If you cannot get stuff done, when you are in the majority, what's the use of being in the majority?
But the one issue that will be the defining factor in who wins and who loses is, controlling the border. An overwhelming majority of Americans believe there should be a fence. That means both Democrats and Republicans, alike, need to step up and make some hard decisions real soon. Or, their little two party reign may come to and end. Dems need to stop looking at the potential votes and te GOP needs to stop looking at the cheap labor. Special interests may give the money, but the people cast the ballots.
Congress wants to buy votes so bad, with a feel-good $100 gas tax rebate. How about taking that money and building a fence? I know I will gladly donate my $100, if that's where it will go.
So the bottom line is: If you read this and you are a member of Congress, or you are one of those party hacks that handle them, it's the border, stupid. Throw every one those other damned polls away. Because until you get that one right, no one will be guaranteed to keep their jobs. No one.
If not this year, in 2008.