According to the latest Fox News midterm election poll, Republicans are gaining ground on the Democrats on the generic ballot test. Proving yet again that there’s no such thing as a safe political prediction, especially this far out from the vote, the new poll may cause Democrats – so confident that they’re headed for a congressional blue wave in November – to rethink their optimism.
As recently as October, Democrats were beating the pants off Republicans in the generic ballot test with a 50-35 percent lead. That lead has shrunk to only five percentage points. Now it’s 46% for Democrats, 41% for Republicans. Still upside down for the GOP, but if this represents a trendline, things could look extremely rosy once November rolls around.
To make things worse for the Democrats, there is cause to believe that they need to not only win the generic ballot test to stand a chance at taking back Congress – they need to dominate.
Republican pollster Daron Shaw told Fox News: “Just winning the popular national vote is not enough to flip the House. Given the GOP’s districting advantages, data from 2012 and 2014 show the Democrats need an edge of at least five points to bring the majority into play.”
Fox News has more on this instructive poll:
Some 36 percent of voters say they are more enthusiastic about heading to the ballot box this year than in previous congressional elections, 12 percent are less enthusiastic, and 51 percent feel about the same as usual. And when you hear the cliché, “it all comes down to turnout,” remember this: among just the subgroup of enthused voters, the Democratic candidate is preferred by a wide 60-33 percent margin. The Republican leads among those feeling “about the same” (38 percent Democrat vs. 48 percent Republican).
The poll finds 52 percent are less optimistic about the direction of the country compared to last year, and more feel nervous (47 percent) than confident (40 percent) about the economy.
That sounds like the electorate is in a bad mood, but this marks the first time since 2010 that fewer than half of voters feel “nervous” about the economy. Forty-seven percent are nervous today, down from 61 percent in 2016, and a high of 70 percent in 2010. In addition, 51 percent feel more optimistic about their finances, and 60 percent are more optimistic about their “personal happiness.”
Overall, a very mixed bag of responses, so we’re not quite sure what to make of it, other than the fact that people are still determined to stay in their partisan corners. Perhaps that’s a good thing; it shows that both Republicans and Democrats have made it clear what they’re about and voters have taken sides. This doesn’t lead to a lot of compromise in Washington, but it does lead to a more clarifying election.