I was looking over the new results from the weekly Research 2000 poll conducted for Daily Kos. Most of the results are about what we've come to expect -- President Obama's ratings are more favorable than unfavorable (55% to 38%); neither congressional caucus is popular, though Dems are more than twice as popular as Republicans (39% to 18%), and the Democratic Party has a 41% favorable rating to the GOP's 23%.
But I also like looking at these numbers when broken down by region. I put together this chart, for example, showing Republican Party favorability in the Northeast, South, Midwest, and West. While about a fourth of the country overall has a positive impression of the GOP, it's hard not to notice that the party's strength seems to rest in one specific part of the country.
In case anyone's having trouble reading the visual, the Republican Party's favorability is very weak in Northeast (7% to 87%), and only marginally better in the Midwest (13% to 78%) and West (14% to 75%). In the South, however, 50% have a favorable opinion of the GOP, and only 37% have an unfavorable view.
Time will tell how the electorate responds to changing economic circumstances, the debate over health care reform, etc., and I can very easily imagine Democrats taking a drubbing in the midterms. But it seems the Republican Party would be in a much more competitive position -- in the short and long term -- if its base wasn't centered in just one region.
Steve Benen is "blogger in chief" of the popular Washington Monthly online blog, Political Animal. His background includes publishing The Carpetbagger Report, and writing for a variety of publications, including Talking Points Memo, The American Prospect, the Huffington Post, and The Guardian. He has also appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation," MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," Air America Radio's "Sam Seder Show," and XM Radio's "POTUS '08."