Charlie Cook: “Hurricane GOP” Bearing Down On Democrats

The latest poll trends have pollster Charlie Cook thinking that the Democrats could be in for a very bad trouncing on Election Day.

In his latest column, pollster Charlie Cook foresees a bad election cycle ahead for the Democrats:

Among all voters, there has been a significant swing since 2008 when Democrats took their new majority won in 2006 to an even higher level. But when you home in on those people in this survey who are most likely to vote, the numbers are devastating. The NBC/WSJ survey, when combined with a previously released NPR study of likely voters in 70 competitive House districts by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg and Republican Glen Bolger, point to an outcome for Democrats that is as serious as a heart attack. Make no mistake about it: There is a wave out there, and for Democrats, the House is, at best, teetering on the edge.

To be sure, things could change in the four months between now and November 2. The GOP’s failure to get Republicans to vote in the May 18 special election in Pennsylvania’s 12th District underscores that the party can’t just sit back and await spontaneous combustion in terms of turnout. Still, the potential is here for a result that is proportional to some of the bigger postwar midterm wave elections. These kinds of waves are often ragged; almost always some candidates who looked dead somehow survive and others who were deemed safe get sucked down in the undertow. That’s the nature of these beasts. But the recent numbers confirm that trends first spotted late last summer have fully developed into at least a Category 3 or 4 hurricane.

Given how many House seats were newly won by Democrats in 2008 in GOP districts, and given that this election is leading into an all-important redistricting year, this reversal of fortune couldn’t have happened at a worse time for Democrats.

This is especially true given that there doesn’t seem to be very much good news out there right now for the incumbent party. The economy continues to teeter on the edge of a recovery that, even if it happens, looks to be incredibly anemic and unlikely to do much good for the millions of people out of work. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues to stand, rightly or wrongly, as a symbol of the failure of a President’s leadership. The war in Afghanistan is not going well by any conceivable measure And, if that weren’t bad enough, there’s always the chance that one of the many brewing hot spots around the world could boil over in the next four months.

It’s no wonder that the right track/wrong track poll is starting to resemble 2008 more and more every day:

Typically, incumbent politicians become more vulnerable when the “wrong track” number goes higher. If this trend continues, then Cook is right, November 2nd could be a very bad day indeed for Democrats.

FILED UNDER: 2010 Election, Congress, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    The seats that are most likely to be in trouble are the ones that changed hands in 2008 and 2006. A disproportionate number of those are presently held by Democrats.

    I still think that the House is going to be a stretch. The Senate on the other hand is looking even more in reach.

  2. Herb says:

    I’ve heard this analysis before, but Nate Silver didn’t use so many breathless adjectives.

  3. Nate’s a younger guy than Charlie Cook, so that probably explains the difference in writing styles 😉

  4. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    When Clinton lost the house and senate in 94, the situation was not as bad as it is today. The only example I will cite is there is a Republican sitting in Edward M. Kennedy’s senate seat. He won becuase he said he would vote against Socialized Health Care. This is a first here. I predict not only will the Republicans win both the house and senate. They will impeach the current President for cause.

  5. grampagravy says:

    Any prediction for the elections that agrees more or less with Zelsdork can’t be wrong! How can anyone expect the party of no to unemployment extensions, no to fixing the banking system that gave us a meltdown, no to immigration reform until we achieve the mythical “secure border,” and yes to apologies to BP for making them pay for treating the Gulf of Mexico like their toilet NOT to be big winners?

  6. Tano says:

    Actually, if you look at the trends in the generic Congressional vote, you will see that the two parties are tied, and have been for a few months. Before that, the GOP had a significant lead.
    Somehow though, this gets translated into momentum for Republicans. Funny how that works.

    You could also just track Charlie Cook’s rhetoric. A few months ago, he pontificated quite assuredly that “the House is lost” for the Democrats. Now he is at least throwing in a few qualifiers, and mostly just doing a lot of hand waving and metaphor slinging. I didn’t even see any quantified prediction.

    Kinda sad to see from Mr. Cook. He certainly has enough of a reputation that he need not make wild and crazy statements in order to get attention. But that seems to be what he has been doing this cycle.

    The GOP has been in an absolutist, negative anti-Obama campaign non-stop since Election Day ’08. The Dems have actually been trying to govern, with a very difficult hand dealt them. I would wait till this fall, when the campaign is engaged from both sides, to get a sense of how things might turn out.

  7. An Interested Party says:

    “The only example I will cite is there is a Republican sitting in Edward M. Kennedy’s senate seat. He won becuase he said he would vote against Socialized Health Care.”

    Umm, he won because his Democratic opponent ran a horrible campaign,,.but, please, don’t let me interupt your delusions…

  8. floyd says:

    If it’s anything like Katrina, the hurricane LOST and we’re still paying the Democrats.

  9. Robert C. says:

    “The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues to stand, rightly or wrongly, as a symbol of the failure of a President’s leadership”…..really…please explain how Obama bears any responsibility for this. The idea that the oil spill represents an Obama failure is a pure Republican talking point. A more accurate statement would have been this” The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues to stand as a symbol of the failure of a President’s leadership, despite him being at no fault for it or how BP chose to manage the spill.

  10. Brummagem Joe says:

    I take no notice of this kind of stuff. Charlie Cook like the media in general are in the entertainment business so he’s looking for a headline like the rest of them. Elections usually get settled in the 8-10 weeks before they happen. Trading claims and counter claims is part of the entertainment I suppose but it’s completely futile. There could be a wave but despite all the tea party hullabaloo this doesn’t feel like 2004 or 2006 to me, outside of the Republican base there doesn’t seem to be the real anger from middle of the roaders and mild Republicans that one heard back then.

  11. wr says:

    Charlie Cook seems like a smart guy, but he’s also predisposed to see good results for Republicans and bad ones for Democrats. He vastly underestimated the Dems’ wins in the last two elections — insisting that they’d never be able to take the Senate — and claiming the Rs would made stronger showings.