Can the Republicans win control of Congress? They can if they want to. It is up to the vaunted GOP base.
According to the Zogby poll, Republican fortunes, while improving in early October, have fallen since. On Sept. 22, Democrats led in the generic vote poll (Do you plan to vote for the Democratic or the Republican candidate in your district?) by nine points, 42-33. But by Oct. 11, their margin was only three � 37-34. But by Oct. 24 it was back up to 11 points � 44-33 � enough for the Democrats to take control of the House and probably the Senate.
But if you dig deep into the Zogby poll, you find an astonishing fact � independents are turning to the Republican Party while Republican base voters are leaving it.
Among independents, the percent that plan to vote Republican has risen from 15 percent on Sept. 22 to 23 percent on Oct. 11 to 26 percent on Oct. 24. While independents are still voting for more Democrats, it's only by 38-26 compared with 38-15 last month.
GOP problems with their base should be curable since Republicans largely agree with their party on all the major issues. Their disloyalty stems from the failure of the Republican Congress and President Bush to pass their agenda and concerns over financial and morality scandals in Washington.
If talk-radio show hosts, cable news stations, and the White House do what they do best � talk to their base � they should be able to turn the situation around. But so far their efforts have been unavailing.
But the Democrats have their problems too. Despite their huge national edge they are not leading in the key Senate races. For example, in New Jersey, Rasmussen's polls have the race between Republican challenger Tom Kean and Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez tied. But, in the same survey, New Jersey voters want Democratic Party control of the Senate by 54-36. So while the party is winning by 18 points, its candidate can manage no better than a tie.
And despite the national trend toward the Democrats, Missouri Republican Sen. Jim Talent still clings to a 50-48 lead over Democrat Claire McCaskill. Likewise in Tennessee, Rasmussen has Republican Bob Corker leading Democrat Harold Ford by 50-48.
To control the Senate, Democrats must win two of these three: New Jersey, Tennessee and Missouri and so far, they trail in two and are tied in the third.