SPECIAL REPORT

Hope for Democrats?

If you listened carefully over the weekend, you could almost hear faint strains of "Happy Days are Here Again," the pop anthem of the Democratic Party.

The New York Times quoted unnamed Republican strategists as saying the GOP could now only be sure of winning about half the seats needed to get control of the House.

The Politico newspaper said, "several important states are now trending" toward the Democrats.

And best of all for Democrats was a Gallup Poll showing the two parties tied among people who were asked which way they would vote in the midterm election. Newsweek magazine, which is noted for amazing poll results, actually had Democrats ahead by five on that question.

But both Gallup and Newsweek were polling registered voters, not likely voters. Polls of likely voters show them favoring the Republicans by an average of about five points up to today.

Equally important are the numbers among independents, the real swing vote in American elections. Here, the average of five current polls shows independents favoring Republicans by a 12-point margin.

Even with a large number of independents still undecided, they would have to break massively for the Democrats to avoid a GOP landslide. It's possible, but another poll may tell you how likely it is: Gallup now finds 42 percent of voters describing themselves as conservative, that's up five in the past two years and the highest number of conservatives Gallup has ever found in a poll.

And how many say they are liberals? Only 20 percent.