A "clear" voter preference for a Republican-run Congress has not filtered down to the pivotal Senate races, in which the party needs to flip six seats to gain a majority, The New York Times
The GOP's consistent lead in polls asking which party should control both chambers equals the edge Republicans had before their landslide 2010 election, when they took over the House.
"Yet Republicans have made few, if any, polling gains in their fight for control of the Senate," writes Nate Cohn of "The Upshot," The Times' data-analysis section. "Their position might have even deteriorated."
The gap between the generic national polls on party preference and the numbers in individual Senate contests "raises the possibility that the national political environment isn't all that bad for Democrats; it's just that they're struggling among the smaller pool of likely voters," writes Cohn.
State-level Democrats may simply not be weighed down by the unpopularity of President Barack Obama, says Cohn, and "might overcome their turnout problems in the crucial batteground states," thanks to increased voter awareness of closely fought and heavily covered races, coupled with saturation campaign advertising and get-out-the-vote drives.
Cohn also speculates that voters may be ambivalent about control of Congress, citing a recent CNN poll that found Republicans leading the generic ballot and Democrats ahead on the question of which party should run the Senate.
Alternately, he writes, the GOP generic ballot advantage could hint at another "wave" election for Republicans that's building but hasn't shown itself yet.
"There are 43 days to go until Election Day, so there's plenty of time for Republicans to take the lead as undecided voters make up their minds," Cohn writes.
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