The Democrats' six-point advantage in Gallup Daily interviewing from July 12-18 represents the first statistically significant lead for that party's candidates since Gallup began weekly tracking of this measure in March. [MOE +/- 3 percentage points. Copyright © 2010 Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved.]Democrats now hold a 49-43 advantage over Republicans on the generic ballot. Tracking closely, President Obama's job approval rating stands at 48%, compared to 44% disapproving.
What suddenly brought on the change? Gallup claims it may have something to do with the popular financial reform package passing Congress, and I agree.
It's possible the increased voter support for Democratic candidates this past week is linked with the Wall Street regulatory reform bill that passed in the U.S. Senate last Thursday, July 15. The financial reform bill is the second-biggest piece of legislation to get through Congress this year, after healthcare reform, and it enjoyed majority support. According to a USA Today/Gallup poll in June, 55% of Americans were in favor of legislation expanding government regulation of financial institutions -- including 72% of Democrats and 56% of independents. Only Republicans were generally opposed.But I don't believe that that's all. In the last few weeks, we have seen movements on several policy issues. Earlier this month, I pointed out the sharp rise in support for the recently enacted health reform law. Several policies under that law are now coming to fruition. A big part of it is health reform and its benefits that are already manifesting themselves. Enrollment in federal high-risk pools have begun. $250 checks to for those who fall into the Medicare prescription drug "donut hole" have already arrived in the mailboxes of American seniors (mailed in early June). Children's pre-existing conditions coverage is being accomplished ahead of schedule.
Republican obstructionism to keep unemployment benefits out of the hands of desperate middle class families also have caught some attention. American troops have begun to withdraw from the unpopular and unnecessary war in Iraq. Significant advances have been made in LGBT rights, including the enactment of the Matthew Sheppard Hate Crimes bill. The BP oil disaster in the Gulf has been capped (although it now seems leaky), and the President got high marks for ensuring a $20 billion fund to help the victims of BP.
Numerous other achievements of this Democratic Congress and President Obama have not gone unnoticed either, if you ask me. The utter lack of any coherent Republican agenda is hurting them. But more importantly, I believe, Democrats are succeeding in making the election in November a choice between the Democratic and Republican agendas, rather than a "throw the incumbents out" type of reactionary election.
Ultimately, this election is a choice - a choice between a potential Speaker Boehner who would repeal historic health reform and historic financial reform, and a continuing Speaker Pelosi whose leadership proved instrumental in passing those reforms. It's a choice between obstructionism and progress. It's a choice between an agenda of investing in the American people and one of giving larger and larger tax breaks to super-corporations. It's a choice between a twenty-first century America and a nineteenth-century one.
That is the choice that the American people must remember - and that is also the choice that we as progressives must understand. We must realize what we have been up against and given that background, appreciate what we have accomplished together. Next, we must understand what is at stake. We cannot afford to be divided. We cannot afford not to do everything we can to maintain control of Congress. The primaries are over. It's time to close ranks to keep a regressive, Republican agenda from either taking shape or presenting an insurmountable roadblock to progress. We must do so for the sake of our movement, and more importantly, for the sake of our country.