A few days ago, one of our newest diarists (and if you aren’t a diarist and want to be, just drop a note in the comments) posted an interesting theory, what if the woofing about a “blue wave” is just that? Woofing. The conventional wisdom has been that a combination of Trump’s low popularity, and this being an off-year election where the president’s party loses seats, and Trump’s low popularity and, and the generic ballot and yes, Trump’s low popularity would overcome the 8-9 vulnerable Democrats running for Senate seats and the make-up of Congressional districts to give one or both houses of Congress to the Democrats. I’ve never been a huge believer in polls. I saw the Democrats sucked into a conspiracy theory maelstrom when John Kerry got beat after early exit polls showed him winning. I got snookered with the whole “unskewed poll” bullsh** in 2012.
But something is happening. Something big enough that even CNN sees it.
The generic congressional ballot has continued to tighten, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, with the Democrats’ edge over Republicans within the poll’s margin of sampling error for the first time this cycle.
About six months out from Election Day, 47% of registered voters say they back the Democratic candidate in their district, 44% back the Republican. Voters also are divided almost evenly over whether the country would be better off with the Democrats in control of Congress (31%) or with the GOP in charge (30%). A sizable 34% — including nearly half of independent voters (48%) — say it doesn’t matter which party controls Congress.
If you look at historical data for the generic ballot, to flip the House take a minimum of about 7 points. This data says the GOP will still control the House. It may have a slightly smaller majority. Or it may not. A one point difference is basically noise.
And there is the Trump factor. Trump is still underwater (down 9 points by the RCP average). But, as the guys at fivethirtyeight.com point out, Trump’s ceiling is probably 45% because to get higher he would need a lot of Democrat crossover support. Being around 44% indicates he has solid approval from the GOP. And, unless Trump is on the ballot, House and Senate candidates can build on that.
There are other factors. CBS reports that a majority, 53%, of Americans think Mueller’s investigation is a political hit job. That is not going to help Democrats.
I think Mollie Hemingway has it completely right:
.@MZHemingway People tune out when the media spews negativity about President Trump – that’s why his approval ratings are on the rise pic.twitter.com/7DZsXhUDuR
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) May 9, 2018
By some counts, as much as 90% of the media coverage of Trump has been negative and yet he persisted. It is quite possible that negative coverage is now baked into the job approval ratings. Let’s face it, how many other presidents would be either unfazed or see an uptick in their ratings as it became apparent they had been boinking a porn star…while his wife was with child.
November is a long, long time away, but predictions of a blue wave are more wishcasting than fact. IF, IF, IF the North Korea talks don’t end up in a thermonuclear exchange and the economy continues to do well, then 2018 will be one of those elections where there are changes around the edge but there is not a seismic political event.
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