Sunday, July 15, 2018

Some Encouraging News for Democrats


I know I've been a little hard on Democrats lately; no this is NOT an apology. But I believe in being fair. Despite my criticisms of party leadership, there is some encouraging news to report and it has to do with the polling, which is quite good if you're a Democrat.

Going into the weekend, the RCP generic Congressional ballot shows Dems up by 8.2 percentage points; the highest they've been since March, and up considerably from a low of 3.2 percent on June 1. Even Rasmussen, which is more a Republican ad agency than a polling firm, has them up 8 points. In fact, if you go all the way back to when Trump was sworn in, Dems have never trailed in this poll. The last time that happened was 2006, when they took both houses of Congress. That year they finished at a plus 7.9 percent on election day, good enough to net 31 House seats and 6 Senate seats.

Then there's Trump's approval rating, which is still around 43 percent. How bad is that? When Republicans took the House in 2009, Barack Obama was polling around 45 percent going into November. In 2014, when they took the Senate, it was a paltry 42 percent. When Democrats took control of Congress in '06, George Bush was polling at 39 percent. The moral of the story is that unpopular presidents are costly for their parties.

But the good news doesn't end just with the generic ballot and Trump's dismal approval numbers. Take a gander at the Right Track / Wrong Track numbers. As of this writing, it stands at 39 / 54 - or plus 15 percent for the wrong track. Put succinctly, when voters still think the country is headed in the wrong direction - even with an economy as strong as this - that spells trouble for the party in power. It means that Trump and the GOP aren't getting any of the credit they would otherwise be entitled to.

Then there are the Senate races, where Democrats are fairing better than many pundits thought they would. In Arizona, Democrat Krysten Sinema is leading her likely Republican opponent Martha McSally by 7.4 percent. I say likely, because the GOP primary still hasn't been held and McSally has a 9 point lead over her opponents, which includes Joe - I just got a pardon from Trump - Arpaio. In Nevada, the latest polling shows Democrat Jacky Rosen ahead of Republican Dean - flip flop - Heller by 4 points.

Both these races have two things in common: One, both seats are currently held by Republicans; and two, the Democrat running in each just happens to be a woman. In fact, if you look closely, the percentage of women running for political office in 2018 is up considerably from prior elections. According to CNN, it's the highest percentage - 22 - since they started tracking it in 1990. Wouldn't it be ironic if the Me-Too movement ends up being the undoing of the party that continues to enable a sexual predator in the White House?

If Democrats can flip both seats and hold onto all of theirs, they would retake the Senate. While that may be a tall order, consider this: not one Democrat is trailing by more than the margin of error in the all crucial Trump states, and several, including Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jon Tester of Montana and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, are ahead in their races. Brown is currently crushing his opponent by 15 points.

Look, I'm not saying it's a done deal that Democrats take back the House AND the Senate. There are still almost four months left before the midterms. Anything can happen. But these poll numbers are evidence that voters are not too happy with the GOP and the dictator in chief. Historically, when the party in power is doing this poorly this far out from an election, things tend to go badly for that party.

And if you're looking for something to hang your hat on, that's a pretty good place to start.

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