42 days until the mid-term elections, and more encouraging news from the latest surveys

By Dave Andrusko

Just guessing, but I’d wager a pretty penny that the decision to run this headline in the New York Times today—“Are Political Winds Blowing in Republicans’ Favor Again?”—came through gritted teeth.

Nate Cohn’s subhead is “There are some signs of a drift toward issues where the party has an advantage, like the economy and immigration.” There are numerous points of keen interest to us but since I want also to talk about a story written today by Jim Geraghty of National Review, I’ll be relatively brief.

Cohn begins with Google Search trends which help “discern these kinds of subtle shifts in the national mood.” He writes, “For the first time since the Dobbs ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, Google searches for the economy and immigration have overtaken searches about abortion.”

Cohn writes,

So far, there aren’t many signs that the shifting winds have begun to reshape the race for Congress. But if you look carefully, there are at least a couple of tantalizing clues. Mr. Biden’s approval ratings haven’t increased this month, and Republicans appear to have made some modest gains in a handful of key Senate races, like Wisconsin’s.

The truly interesting—and important conclusion—Cohn reaches are the reasons the Google trends numbers now “resemble the figures from the spring.” Dobbs and two other issues not in our purview were “an unusual outside event” which “helped focus the electorate on an issue that helped Democrats. As those galvanizing factors fall into the rearview mirror, the electorate’s gaze appears to be drifting back toward the earlier set of issues.”

Writing in National Review Online, Jim Geraghty argues “Midterm Polls Look Better for Republicans Than We’ve been Led to Believe.” He summarizes his three point argument and then develops them. 

We’ll re-post the summary, and then talk about what they tell us, which is fascinating. 

As the midterm elections get closer, it’s worth keeping some key lessons in mind while perusing the latest polls. First, a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll buried the lead, which shows Republicans well ahead in the key swing districts — and this tells us a lot more than the usual generic-ballot numbers. Second, it’s getting a little late in the cycle for polls of registered voters, but they keep showing up, and there’s good reason to think that the polls are using a way-too-generous definition of a “likely voter.” Third, even if the midterm outlook isn’t as good for Republicans as it was in the early summer, that doesn’t mean the outlook is bad. And finally, NBC News commentator Jen Psaki, Biden’s former White House press secretary, offers some surprisingly blunt truth for her party and former boss.

*It is late to be surveying registered voters rather than the much more accurate likely voters. The ABC News/Washington Post poll tells us that if you count just registered voters, Democrats are down by only one point. But if you tally likely voters, Republican are up by 5 points.

Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey adds 

“All of the polls for the current RCP [Real Clear Politics] aggregate average are from this month. Notice anything else? Every single poll showing a Democratic lead uses samples of registered voters. Not one likely-voter survey has Democrats in the lead. Republicans lead in two of the three likely-voter surveys, and tie in the third, but they don’t trail in any of them.

**Something that’s obvious once you think about it, but I sure had missed it previously. Geraghty writes 

The generic-ballot question is an imperfect measurement because it’s just asking people across the country whether they’re voting for Republicans or Democrats. We don’t know if they live in a swing district, a heavily Democratic district, or a heavily Republican district. When we want to know which party is going to control the House, we care a lot about those swing districts and districts that lean just a little toward one party or the other.

 And, oh by the way,

Among those living in congressional districts that are rated as at least somewhat competitive by ABC’s FiveThirtyEight (neither solid Republican nor solid Democratic), registered voters favor Republican candidates by a wide 55-34 percent — nearly as big as the Republican lead in solid GOP districts (+24 points).

Do take a few minutes out to read Cohn and Geraghty. They’ll make your day.