The “Obama Plunge” – what is it ?

In several major elections held since “cap and trade” passed the U.S. House last summer, we have noted a considerable dropoff in Democratic support relative to the levels of support Barack Obama received in his 2008 Presidential race. We believe this dropoff (aka, the “Obama plunge”) can be used to evaluate the electoral prospects of Democratic congressional candidates in conjunction with several other factors. We therefore would like to reiterate the criteria/factors we are using to evaluate whether we think a Democratic held seat is safe, vulnerable, or on the “watch list”:

(1)   An Obama vote of 65% or less;

(2)   (For incumbent Democrats), a 2008 re-election percentage of 65% or less;

(3)   (For incumbent Democrats), his/her voting record on major legislation (the stimulus, “cap and trade”, raising the national debt ceiling, and the five healthcare votes taken). We believe that in general, voting against the Democratic agenda a majority of the time insulates an incumbent from defeat, unless the incumbent Democrat voted “Yes” at least once on healthcare reform;

(4) Whether the district has a significant Democratic base vote (minorities, academic liberals, Jewish voters, or government workers), as the “Obama plunge” so far has been with Republicans and Independents, and NOT with “base voters”;

(5) ”Congressmen/women behaving badly”, due to recent confrontational conduct demonstrated by 4 year incumbent Congressmen Phil Hare (D-Illinois) and 14 year incumbent Bob Etheridge (D-North Carolina) that was caught on camera;

(6) Actual poll results in individual House races.

At the present time, we believe the criteria above suggests a net gain of 81 seats for the GOP, with 15 more Democratic seats’ being on the “watch list.” The list of those seats is here

John is a political consultant and blogger with JMC Enterprises with expertise in poll sample development and analysis, development of targeted voter files for phone canvassing or mail outs, campaign strategy and demographic consulting, among other things. See his site at for more information.



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