Can Democrats Take Back the House in 2012?

If this were a normal political environment, it would be safe to assume a GOP House majority through the 2012 cycle. After all, at 240 seats, it would take another wave election – the third in as many cycles – for Republicans to lose control of the House. But the politics of this moment are highly unusual: Te economy is teetering on the edge of a double-dip recession and the new GOP majority has eschewed moderation altogether, opting instead for brinksmanship on the nation’s finances, and a hard-right agenda of deep spending cuts and attacks on reproductive health care for women.

As a result, not only has the Republican Party tarred Congress with its worst approval ratings ever, but it has led the public to double-down on its disdain for the GOP -- an incredible feat, given the party’s already poor approval ratings. With all of this in mind, it’s no surprise that after taking a shellacking in last year’s elections, the Democratic Party is now leading the generic congressional ballot among registered voters, 51 to 44:

Indeed, at this point, House Speaker John Boehner is as unpopular as Nancy Pelosi. To Tom Jensen at Public Policy Polling, this is a clear sign that Democrats could take back the House in 2012, as voters kick the bums out, again.

The interesting question is how this affects Barack Obama’s reelection chances. Matthew Yglesias can’t envision a scenario where voters elect a Republican president and a Democratic House, and neither can I. Not only is split-ticket voting rare, as Yglesias notes, but Americans still hold the Republican Party responsible for country’s economic woes. In all likelihood, they’ll still know who to blame when it comes time to register their thoughts at the ballot box.

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