Well, perhaps it’s better titled that the Democrats have lost some ground, but either way, there has been a recent string of 2018 midterm polling data that seems to indicate a temporary lull in the “blue wave” expected to crash on the shores of Congress in November. Republicans have been counting on the positive effects of the President’s tax cuts, coupled with overall improvements in economic sentiment and consumer confidence. In other words, “it’s the economy, stupid.”
MarketWatch reports on the latest findings that show Democratic victory in November is not quite fully assured:
Democrats hold an advantage ahead of the midterm elections, but a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that edge has narrowed since January.
That’s a signal to party leaders and strategists, the Post writes, that they could be premature in anticipating a big wave of victories in November. The poll finds the gap between support for Democratic vs. Republican House candidates has dropped by more than half since the beginning of the year. And at the same time, there has been a slight increase in President Donald Trump’s approval rating, though it remains low.
With the GOP House majority at risk, 47% of registered voters say they prefer the Democratic candidate in their district, while 43% favor the Republican. That four-point margin compares with a 12-point advantage Democrats held in January.
I’d rather be the party sitting with the 4 percent advantage, because that’s still a lead outside the margin of error. However, to have dropped 8 points since the prior poll might start to indicate a tightening of the race.
The Washington Post also notes the recent polling shift moving slightly toward Republicans:
The poll finds that the gap between support for Democratic vs. Republican House candidates has dropped by more than half since the beginning of the year. At the same time, there has been a slight increase in President Trump’s approval rating, although it remains low. Measures of partisan enthusiasm paint a more mixed picture of the electorate in comparison with signs of Democratic intensity displayed in many recent special elections.
One potentially new factor in the mix of midterm issues is gun policy, which has emerged as a major voter consideration two months after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. More than 4 in 10 registered voters say it is extremely important that candidates share their views on gun issues. Fewer voters say it is critical that candidates share their views on Trump or House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), leaders who are most likely to be targets in partisan messaging this fall.
Maybe beyond the economy, the next topic is guns in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which created a national uproar over gun control and gun bans. What’s interesting here is how most gun control advocates tout figures often claiming “90 percent support” for this gun control change or that one, but we rarely see that play out at the ballot box. It’s safe to say that most Americans would support strengthening background checks, but it all depends on the language and the depth of such changes.
The larger question to ask on guns is whether voters trust their specific legislator on the issue of gun control and/or gun rights. As in, “do you trust this person to strengthen gun laws while also respecting gun rights?” I’d like to see polling done on that more extensively and it might illuminate how this issue is really effecting the midterms beyond the generic question of whether voters want legislators who share their views on guns.
More from the Post:
The survey shows the GOP making a more pronounced shift among white voters, who now prefer Republicans by a 14-point margin over Democrats, up from five points in January. Republicans lead by 60 percent to 31 percent among white voters without college degrees, slightly larger than an 18-point GOP advantage three months ago.
Republicans are making gains, but the gains may be coming mostly from safe districts. What about the swing districts which may decide House control?
The situation in the districts where control of the House is likely to be decided is slightly more favorable for Democrats. The Cook Political Report, which produces nonpartisan analysis, lists 56 of the 435 congressional districts as competitive — 51 of them in Republican hands to just five held by Democrats.
It’s still early in the process and neither party has finished their primary battles. It’s inarguable that Democrats are still in a good position overall, especially given the historical context. A lot can change between now and November, but Republicans should take notice as to what happened in the past month to erode some of the widening Democratic lead.