A series of Gallup polls released around the Nov. 4 election provides context for the election results, which show Republicans regaining the initiative.
One of the best predictors of national partisan preferences without the influence of personalities is the generic ballot test for the House of Representatives. After its poor showing in the November election, Democrats now trail Republicans in the test.
Because Republican turnout tends to be better in lower turnout mid-term elections, the Democratic spread on the generic ballot test needs to be wider if Democrats are to maintain their position or add seats.
History indicates that Republicans should pick up seats in 2010 as the party out of power, although, there were exceptions in 1998 and 2002 when Bill Clinton and George W. Bush defied history and gained seats in the House for their respective parties.
1994 and 2004 Blow-out Elections
The two great examples of anti-presidential party blow outs were 1994 when Republicans took control of the House after a four decade drought and 2006 when the Democrats came back.
The generic ballot shows Democrats well ahead during most of 2006, including the last poll in October. Democrats won 31 seats in November. In 1994, Republicans and Democrats were even in the October poll, and Republicans gained 53 seats.
The Democratic majority status is endangered. The Democrats picked up 31 seats in 2006 (they had a 7 point final generic ballot spread after the undecided voters were distributed). With a four point deficit as of early October 2009, Democrats could lose 39 seats in 2010 (218 seats are a majority; Democrats have 257 today), but current predictions indicate about 30 seats are at risk.
(See Gallup polls: Generic Ballot and Republicans Edge)