Should the GOP be worried about big lead for Dems in generic congressional poll?

The most recent RealClear Politics poll on the question of which party should control Congress appears on the surface to show that the GOP is doomed in 2018.

The Hill reports that the 10.7% lead for Democrats is the highest average lead for either party in the generic ballot since 2010 when it favored Republicans. The GOP won 63 House seats that year.

Are we in store for a Democratic tsunami at the polls? Don't believe everything you read.

It’s a gloomy sign for Republicans, and one that dovetails with President Trump’s sagging approval rating to boost Democratic optimism about taking the House and raises questions about whether Republicans will be able to take advantage of Democratic weakness on the Senate map.

“It’s always stupid to make firm predictions in anything, whether it be politics or the Super Bowl. But it seems clear we are heading in a bad direction” said former Republican National Committee spokesman Doug Heye.

“What we’ve seen so far this year that the constant is massive Trump unpopularity, a growing unpopularity, and we are starting to see that electorally. Knowing there’s never going to be a Donald Trump pivot in any sense, what would tell us that anything in this midterm is different?” 

Democrats are pointing to promising results from the off-year elections earlier this month as a promising sign for 2018.

A resounding win by the Democrat in Virginia’s gubernatorial race, as well as strong showings among suburban voters, topped the headlines. But there was more promise down the ballot in other states, too. 

In Pennsylvania, Democrats cleaned up in most of the “collar counties” that make up the Philadelphia suburbs. Voters elected Democrats to serve on the Delaware County council for the first time since 1980. Democrats saw similar success in other nearby counties like Chester County, and local Democratic candidates specifically pointed to Trump as one reason for their success. Most of those suburbs are represented by Republicans. 

In Maine, voters in the more conservative second congressional district — home to Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) — narrowly backed a state ballot question on expanding Medicaid, amid the protests from Republicans. 

“The down-ballot races are more instructive for what’s coming in the House,” said Charlie Kelly, the executive director of the House Majority PAC, which works to boost Democrats in House races. 

“They sent a pretty loud message two weeks ago, and I anticipate that will continue.”

I think it remarkable that the polls are as close as they are given the avalanche of hysterical, anti-Trump and anti-Republican media coverage. But there's no doubt that the fall off in enthusiasm by GOP voters is a problem - especially in the suburbs and ex-urbs where a large Republican turnout would be expected to counter much of the Democrat's advantage that usually acrues to the party out of power in an off year election. 

What the election earlier this month showed is a lot less dramatic than the media spin in reporting it. Democrats won everywhere they were supposed to and a few places they weren't. No one was suprised that a Democrat won the New Jersey governor's race, or that Democrats were elected in Pennsylvania suburbs. Those contests reverted to form before recent GOP successes. But the feeble GOP turnout in downstate Virginia may have cost them the state House of Delegates. 

Also, the generic ballot examines the nation as a whole, not the 435 individual House races. No doubt that some GOP incumbents are in trouble - how many at this point is unknown. Republicans may be in more trouble with open seats - districts where the incumbent is retiring or running for another office. But again, most of those seats have been safe GOP in the past and unless Democrats are recruiting credible candidates at a faster rate than they've currently demonstrated, they are going to have an uphill climb to take over the House.

The generic ballot can be seen as a statement by voters that they are dissatisfied with Republicans and will vote them out unless they can demonstrate an ability to govern. But the poll does not translate automatically into a Democratic sweep, which should give Republicans hope that they can turn it around enough to avoid the loss of their majority.

The most recent RealClear Politics poll on the question of which party should control Congress appears on the surface to show that the GOP is doomed in 2018.

The Hill reports that the 10.7% lead for Democrats is the highest average lead for either party in the generic ballot since 2010 when it favored Republicans. The GOP won 63 House seats that year.

Are we in store for a Democratic tsunami at the polls? Don't believe everything you read.

It’s a gloomy sign for Republicans, and one that dovetails with President Trump’s sagging approval rating to boost Democratic optimism about taking the House and raises questions about whether Republicans will be able to take advantage of Democratic weakness on the Senate map.

“It’s always stupid to make firm predictions in anything, whether it be politics or the Super Bowl. But it seems clear we are heading in a bad direction” said former Republican National Committee spokesman Doug Heye.

“What we’ve seen so far this year that the constant is massive Trump unpopularity, a growing unpopularity, and we are starting to see that electorally. Knowing there’s never going to be a Donald Trump pivot in any sense, what would tell us that anything in this midterm is different?” 

Democrats are pointing to promising results from the off-year elections earlier this month as a promising sign for 2018.

A resounding win by the Democrat in Virginia’s gubernatorial race, as well as strong showings among suburban voters, topped the headlines. But there was more promise down the ballot in other states, too. 

In Pennsylvania, Democrats cleaned up in most of the “collar counties” that make up the Philadelphia suburbs. Voters elected Democrats to serve on the Delaware County council for the first time since 1980. Democrats saw similar success in other nearby counties like Chester County, and local Democratic candidates specifically pointed to Trump as one reason for their success. Most of those suburbs are represented by Republicans. 

In Maine, voters in the more conservative second congressional district — home to Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) — narrowly backed a state ballot question on expanding Medicaid, amid the protests from Republicans. 

“The down-ballot races are more instructive for what’s coming in the House,” said Charlie Kelly, the executive director of the House Majority PAC, which works to boost Democrats in House races. 

“They sent a pretty loud message two weeks ago, and I anticipate that will continue.”

I think it remarkable that the polls are as close as they are given the avalanche of hysterical, anti-Trump and anti-Republican media coverage. But there's no doubt that the fall off in enthusiasm by GOP voters is a problem - especially in the suburbs and ex-urbs where a large Republican turnout would be expected to counter much of the Democrat's advantage that usually acrues to the party out of power in an off year election. 

What the election earlier this month showed is a lot less dramatic than the media spin in reporting it. Democrats won everywhere they were supposed to and a few places they weren't. No one was suprised that a Democrat won the New Jersey governor's race, or that Democrats were elected in Pennsylvania suburbs. Those contests reverted to form before recent GOP successes. But the feeble GOP turnout in downstate Virginia may have cost them the state House of Delegates. 

Also, the generic ballot examines the nation as a whole, not the 435 individual House races. No doubt that some GOP incumbents are in trouble - how many at this point is unknown. Republicans may be in more trouble with open seats - districts where the incumbent is retiring or running for another office. But again, most of those seats have been safe GOP in the past and unless Democrats are recruiting credible candidates at a faster rate than they've currently demonstrated, they are going to have an uphill climb to take over the House.

The generic ballot can be seen as a statement by voters that they are dissatisfied with Republicans and will vote them out unless they can demonstrate an ability to govern. But the poll does not translate automatically into a Democratic sweep, which should give Republicans hope that they can turn it around enough to avoid the loss of their majority.

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