The CNN/ORC International survey shows the GOP with a 49-44 percent edge among registered voters when asked whether they would vote for a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district, without providing any specific names.
That's a somewhat dramatic change from mid-October, when Democrats held a 50-42 percent lead in the same poll. That survey was conducted at the apex of the the government shutdown, which proved to be an absolute disaster for Republicans nationally, and before the problems with the Affordable Care Act's website began dominating news coverage.
Whether this ranking means anything the 2014 midterm congressional elections is subject to debate. A better question is whether it portends anything regarding the March 2014 special election in the Pinellas Congressional 13 special election between Democrat Alex Sink and either David Jolly or Kathleen Peters?
The informed answer is probably not, despite the fact that the local race is considered a "bellwether" by no less than the New York Times, since the district is so evenly divided between R's and D's.
The last survey done on a race between Sink and the two top Republicans candidates by St. Pete Polls shows the Democrat with a substantial 13-point lead over both Jolly and Peters. Sink led by 20 points over the other Republican that will be on the Jan. 14 primary ballot, retired Marine brigadier general Mark Bircher.
That early lead will be severely challenged once Pinellas Republicans stop battling each other and zero in on Sink, probably on two main issues: one, her roots in the community., and two, Obamacare.
Regarding the carpetbagger charge:Jack Latvala and other supporters of Kathleen Peters' candidacy have talked a great deal about the fact that David Jolly has worked mainly out of Washington D.C. and not in the district as a reason to disqualify him in the primary. That line of attack will undoubtedly be revved up against Sink once either Jolly or Peters becomes the nominee, and it won't be that easy for her to refute.
But where the new generic poll becomes relevant is the fallout that Democrats have been getting all December because of the continuing rollout problems with the ACA. Sink has tried to separate herself from the issue, calling the rollout "a disaster" and saying the Obama administration has "failed us" in its sloppy implementation.
In that respect, the CD13 race definitely will be a bellwether regarding how volatile and toxic the ACA is politically, perhaps even more so now in light of the extensive news coverage of every aspect of the installation of a significant change in how many Americans get health coverage.
Come next November the ACA will still be prevalent, but Democrats and supporters of the law express confidence that some of the worst-case scenarios being described by critics of health care reform will prove to have been overblown. But nobody knows if that will be the case.
Meanwhile, Jolly and Peters have had to keep a low profile this week. Nobody is interested in talking or thinking too much about politics during the holidays (or should we say most normal people, since politics was definitely the subject of discussions at a Christmas Eve party I attended). But there's only two and a half weeks left before the Jan. 14 GOP primary, which means the news blackout will end soon enough.
And regarding the poll today showing a GOP semi-surge? It should be noted that a year before the 2010 midterms, Democrats held a six-point lead on the generic ballot. But when November of 2010 actually came around, House Republicans picked up a historic-63 seats, taking back the House of Representatives and removing the gavel from Nancy Pelosi's hands.