By Dave Andrusko
The closer we come to November 6, the more I am reminded of the immortal Yogi Berra, who once said, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”
Suddenly, Democrats are “surging” with three weeks to go before the mid-term elections. Not in the Senate, mind you, but in the House.
Evidence? We’re told Democrats enjoy an 10 or 11 point advantage in the “generic vote,” among registered voters, meaning what people say when asked, “If the election were held today, would you vote for a Democrat or a Republican?”
Let’s think about for a second.
It is true the closer you get to the election, the more accurate the poll should be. Obviously a poll, however, is only as good as the sample of voters taken, but that’s always the case.
#1. Taking things cumulatively, as opposed to breaking down the numbers more carefully, can be disastrously misleading. For example, writing today over at ABC News, Rick Klein and MaryAlice Parks note that while the Democrats [supposedly] have this 11 point generic vote advantage in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll
inside the 66 districts that are tossups, or only leaning toward one party or the other — the majority makers, or breakers — that lead evaporates into a 46-47 Democrats v. Republicans race.
To be clear, when it comes to the generic vote, in highly competitive races, there is no Democratic advantage. That piece of information changes everything.
So what is the basis for the overall Democratic advantage? Klein and Parks tell us, “It’s easy to attribute Democrats’ double-digit advantage on the generic congressional ballot as the result of a highly motivated base of young (and mostly female) voters, fueled by a burgeoning progressive movement and a historic gender gap not seen since the early 1980’s, that the party knows they must turn out to win in November.” Yes, it is.
Hold that thought.
#2. There were passing references over the weekend to President Trump’s 5 point improvement in his job approval numbers. They are now at 41%.
By comparison two years into Barack Obama’s first term (specifically for the period Oct 11-17,2010), his approval rating was 45%, according to Gallup.
And it’s not just that President Trump’s approval numbers are close to Obama’s at a comparable point. Today Rasmussen Reports, which polls likely voters, “shows that 51% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Forty-nine percent (49%) disapprove.”
Put #1 and #2 together you have (a) an overall Democratic advantage in the generic ballot fueled by the expectation that young people will flock to the polls in 22 days but (b) high approval numbers for President Trump among likely voters.
Put another way, Democrats do not have an advantage in the key competitive races they need to win the House while the overall advantage they supposedly enjoy assumes they will have a big turnout among young people who don’t ordinarily vote in off-year elections.
And I would also add, while I cannot prove this, I will be shocked if there is a sizeable Democratic advantage among all women, not just “young” women. Remember how “women” were going to carry Hillary Clinton to the presidency?
Finally, if you dig into the ABC News/Washington Post poll you read this:
TURNOUT AND OVERVOTE – The Democrats, to be sure, also can find grounds to worry. Their support is strongest among minorities and young adults, groups that tend to have lower turnout in midterm elections. It’s also focused in urban areas, where the Democrats generally already control House seats; specifically, registered voters favor Democratic candidates by 63-31 percent in cities, vs. an essentially even 49-46 percent in suburbs and 44-53 percent in rural areas.
The impact of the vote is diluted, because it is so concentrated in areas Democrats already hold, and the Democrats’ support is strongest among “groups that tend to have lower turnout in midterm elections.”
Keep coming back to NRL News Today for the next three weeks for a more realistic assessment of the 2018 mid-term elections.