For the first time since the beginning of September, when the Democratic Party started seeing a surge in polling across the country, the Republican Party has pulled ahead in a running average of the Generic Congressional Ballot.
According to the RealClearPolitics polling average, Republicans are up 0.4 percent over Democrats, who had retaken the lead in that average on September 1.
From August through much of September, Democrats were riding a wave of successful news stories centered around a legislative accomplishment and gas prices dropping. The Dobbs decision is also likely to have energized Democratic voters, which would also have been reflected in the polls. However, several recent polls have started to shift back toward the Republican Party, including a typically Democratic-favoring Economist/YouGov poll, as we broke down earlier today.
If you look at the RCP graph above, the problem does not seem to be that the Democrats are dropping. Their averages are roughly the same now that they have been all month, just a dip in recent days. But, the GOP was at its lowest point in this average on September 16. In the days that have followed, the GOP’s fortunes have been on a steady rise.
September 17 is roughly when the polls started reflecting reactions to the August inflation report, which was released on September 13.
As we’ve said time and again, and I’ve mentioned repeatedly on my radio show (excuse the shameless promotion), these are the issues that will determine the election. These “kitchen table” topics, where families are concerned about the economy and money, the job market, crime, and all of those national issues that have an important local impact, are the issues that voters will vote on. They care more about inflation and how expensive it is to buy groceries for their family than they do abortion. They care more about crime than they do about banning drag queen storytime.
The Democrats’ closing message is going to be about rallying their base. They are focusing on abortion and sexual identity. They are bringing up Donald Trump and January 6. But all of these things are on the periphery for most voters more in the middle. Who is the party in power while crime waves hit major cities and while gas prices settle at a dollar higher on average than they were a year ago? Who is in charge while inflation is hitting everyone in their pocketbooks?
The Democrats are hovering around 45 percent in the Generic Congressional polls, and they have not really broken that barrier for a year. Republicans, meanwhile, have been on a sharp rise as of late. They are rising past the Democrats’ ceiling.
Now, there is just over a month left. Anything can still happen. But, the Democrats are struggling to find a message that goes beyond that 45 percent. That’s a big problem for them going forward.