Trump's approval now better than Obama's was at first midterm election

A new NBC-Wall Street Journal poll has some good news for Donald Trump and the Republicans.  The president's approval rating jumped to 47%, the highest ever for that poll.  Trump's approval is better at this point in his presidency than the rating of Barack Obama.

The Hill:

The poll found Trump's approval rating at its highest level for that poll yet, at 47 percent. Obama's approval rating was 45 percent around the same time in 2010, according to a similar NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken in late October 2010. 

Obama's approval rating was reaching a record low in October 2010, just before his party lost a significant number of seats in the House and Senate. 

Trump is a historically unpopular president among the general U.S. population, but consistently retains extremely high levels of Republican support. Recent polls have put him at around a 90 percent approval rating among Republicans.

Many see the midterm elections as a referendum on the current president. 

While the Democrats were slaughtered in the 2010 midterms, there's a huge difference: Trump's numbers have been trending upward, while Obama's were sinking.  It shows that the midterms are likely to be a "referendum" not on Trump's unpopularity, but rather on his accomplishments.  In short, the Democrats' anti-Trump hysteria has failed to generate the kind of national backlash against the president they were hoping for.

Moreover, recent events have energized Republican voters, negating any "enthusiasm gap" the Democrats hoped to have:

The new NBC/WSJ poll found voters more energized than they have been for years, with 72 percent of Democrats telling pollsters they are very interested in the upcoming election as 68 percent of Republicans said the same.

"Midterms are about mobilization, and we are headed into the stretch run with unprecedented enthusiasm among both parties," Democratic pollster Fred Yang told NBC.

Overall, the poll found Democrats with a 9-point lead over Republicans in the battle for congressional control. Fifty percent of likely voters said they want Congress to flip to the Democrats while 41 percent said they want Republicans to retain majorities.

Forget the "generic ballot" numbers.  They are skewed due to many blue and red districts where one party or the other is getting two thirds support  or better among voters.  What matters are the 435 individual races, especially the 65 or so districts where both parties are competitive.  The results from those races will determine who controls Congress, and there is no way a "generic poll" can predict the outcomes.

Almost every poll that has been released over the last couple of weeks is saying the same thing: Trump's approval is on the rise, GOP voters are enthusiastic, and the Democrats' fantasy of a "blue wave" has disappeared.  This doesn't mean that Republicans will keep their majority – or lose it.  It probably means that one side or the other will narrowly control the House next year, almost certainly by single digits.

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