That's the key question sparked by today's Gallup Poll that shows Republicans jumping four points ahead of Democrats on the 2010 ballot question — the kind of lead not seen by the GOP since their glory years of 1994 and 2002.
The poll also shows Democrats hemorrhaging independent voters. From a 1 point lead in July to a 22 point deficit now.
Added to exit polls from last Tuesday's gubernatorial races in NJ and VA that showed the GOP candidates winning independents 2-1, the Gallup findings are a flashing red light for Democrats if accurate.
Our polling director Gary Langer points out that Gallup is the only national poll in the last month that has the GOP ahead. The others show Democrats holding a 6-12 point lead.
So for now, Gallup is the outlier. Which doesn't mean, of course, that it isn't a harbinger.
UPDATE: Andy Kohut just sent me his new Pew Poll which reinforces both sides of the Outlier v Harbinger debate. Democrats maintain a 5 point advantage (47-42) on the generic ballot, but anti-incumbent sentiment is raging: Only 34% say that most incumbents should be re-elected, and only 52% want to see their own member of Congress win again. As Andy points out, “both measures are among the most negative in two decades of Pew Research surveys.”
You can read the whole poll HERE.
- George Stephanopoulos