With just 78 days before the midterm elections, Republicans have seized an all-time record lead in generic party preference — a clear signal that Democrats are running out of time to resolve the ground zero mosque controversy and get back on message if they hope to avoid a political train wreck in November.
Democratic pollster and Fox News commentator Douglas Schoen calls the latest polls "very bad" for Democrats.
"With these numbers, the House is almost certainly gone and the Senate is very much in play," Schoen tells Newsmax.
For Democrats, the timing of the polls could hardly be worse.
Reports are emerging from the White House that Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has been in damage-control mode, working the phones to stave off further Democratic defections over President Obama's on-again, off-again support for construction of a mosque and cultural center in lower Manhattan.
Late Monday, Majority Leader Harry Reid parted company with the president, saying the mosque should be built elsewhere. A flurry of swing-district New York Democrats also are siding with Reid, and urging that a new location be found. They include Reps. Mike Arcuri, Mike McMahon, Steve Israel, and Tim Bishop.
The division among Democrats, combined with the poll numbers, raises the prospect of a massive GOP landslide in November.
Gallup reported Tuesday that the GOP has seized the largest margin of advantage in the history of the firm's generic ballot: 50 percent to 43 percent. Pollsters use generic ballots to ferret out which party is favored by voters irrespective of specific candidates or individual races.
Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport confirmed to Newsmax that Tuesday's result is the largest GOP lead the organization has ever recorded in generic-ballot polling.
When filtered for likely voters, the Gallup result is even stronger. The GOP lead increases by another 4 to 5 points, bringing it in line with a new Rasmussen survey.
The Rasmussen Reports survey released Monday shows Republicans with a whopping 12-point lead over Democrats on the generic ballot. That result probably does not reflect all the fallout from the ongoing mosque controversy.
Almost 70 percent of voters say a mosque should not be built two blocks away from where Muslim terrorists destroyed the Twin Towers on 9/11.
Democrats reacted sharply to the latest developments, urging Democratic leaders and the White House to regain control of their message before it's too late.
"Democrats need a mid-course correction," Schoen says. "They need to emphasize fiscal discipline, balanced budget, holding the line on spending — and most of all a laser-like focus on stimulating the economy and private sector job creation."
A communications strategist who advised the 2008 Obama campaign, David Morey, told CNN: "The danger here is an incoherent presidency."
Morey urged the president's advisers to retool their communications effort.
"Simpler is better, and rising above these issues and leading by controlling the dialogue is what the presidency is all about," he said. "So I think that's the job they have to do more effectively as they have in the past."
Former White House Press Secretary and Fox News commentator Dana Perino, however, tells Newsmax that Democrats may not be able to reconnect with voters.
"In some ways, there's nothing they can do — the wind is at the GOP's back and the president isn't on the ballot" and might not help them that much this year if he were, Perino tells Newsmax.
But Perino warns that the GOP must avoid overconfidence, and self-inflicted wounds, to deliver a stunning reversal to Democrats on Nov. 2.
"I still think the GOP should not count any chickens," Perino cautions. "They must stay focused, argue on the merits, avoid mistakes and gaffes, and point out the policies they would push that will turn the economy around."
Republicans are not unified in their opposition to the president's nuanced position.
Figures such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin have challenged Obama. But GOP New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made headlines by pleading with fellow Republicans not to overreact to the proposed $100 million mosque.
Speaking at a bill-signing ceremony in Trenton, Christie said it would be wrong to "paint Islam with a brush of radical Muslim extremists that just want to kill Americans because we are Americans. But beyond that . . . I am not going to get into it," he said, "because I would be guilty of candidly what I think some Republicans are guilty of, and the president is now, the president is guilty of, of playing politics with this issue, and I simply am not going to do it."
A group of conservative Arab-American and Muslim leaders wrote GOP leaders a letter stating: "While we share the desire of all in our party to be successful in the November elections, we cannot support victory at the expense of the U.S. Constitution or the Arab and Muslim community in America."
It remains unclear whether a deal could be worked out to relocate the mosque.
According to Politico, a Cordoba Initiative spokesman for the Park51 facility, responding to a report that New York Gov. David Paterson would meet later this week with leaders of the mosque project to discuss alternative sites, stated: "To the best of our knowledge, a meeting has not been scheduled. We appreciate the governor's interest as we continue to have conversations with many officials."
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