"Over the course of the year, independents' preference for the Republican candidate in their districts has grown," Gallup writes in the press release. The poll was conducted after Republican wins earlier this month in the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races.
Like the new governors-elect, the party was boosted in the poll by independent voters, who strongly favored the Republicans 52 to 30 percent. Among base supporters, party loyalty remains high, with 91 percent of Democratic registered voters preferring a Democratic candidate and 93 percent of Republican voters preferring a Republican.
It should be noted that while this kind of poll shows momentum for Republicans ahead of the 2010 elections, the poll does not take into account specific preferences within a congressional district or for particular candidates. The 2010 elections consist of separate House and Senate campaigns rather than an overall national vote.
In addition, Gallup notes that this poll did not factor in the anticipated voter turnout a year from now. The poll release says turnout models will be included in future polls as the 2010 elections get closer in time.
"Given that Republicans usually have a turnout advantage, if normal turnout patterns prevail in the coming election, prospects for a good Democratic showing appear slim," Gallup says in the release. "Of course, the elections are still nearly 12 months away and conditions could shift back in the Democrats' favor over this time."
Results are based on telephone interviews with 894 registered voters, aged 18 and older, conducted Nov. 5-8, 2009. The maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points. Cell phone users who did not have a land line were also included in this poll.