Many liberal media outlets are reporting that Democrats will have the advantage during this midterm elections, but a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that edge has narrowed since January, a signal to party leaders and strategists that they could be premature in anticipating a huge wave of victories in November, yet again.
The Washington Post reports that the poll finds that the gap between support for Democratic vs. Republican House candidates dropped by more than half since the beginning of the year.
At the same time, there has been a slight increase in President Trump’s approval rating, although it remains low. Measures of partisan enthusiasm paint a more mixed picture of the electorate in comparison to signs of Democratic intensity displayed in many recent special elections.
One of the factors that lawmakers are focusing on intently this midterm season is gun policy. After the mass shootings of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the Las Vegas shooting, More than 4 in 10 registered voters say it is extremely important that candidates share their views on gun issues.
What doesn’t seem to be as important to voters is if candidates share their views on Trump or House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), leaders who are most likely to be targeted in partisan messaging this fall.
“With the Republicans’ House majority at risk, 47 percent of registered voters say they prefer the Democratic candidate in their district, while 43 percent favor the Republican. That four-point margin compares with a 12-point advantage Democrats held in January. Among a broader group of voting-age adults, the Democrats’ margin is 10 points, 50 percent to 40 percent,” The Washington Post reports.
Republicans owe part of their improved standing to Trump’s thawing job ratings. The Post-ABC poll finds that 40 percent approve of the president, up slightly from 36 percent in January to his highest level of support since last April.
Still, Trump continues to face majority disapproval at 56 percent, higher than any other president at this stage since the dawn of modern polling, an indication that he remains a significant liability for Republicans on ballots in November.
The survey shows the GOP making a more pronounced shift among white voters, who now prefer Republicans by a 14-point margin over Democrats, up from five points in January. Republicans lead by 60 percent to 31 percent among white voters without college degrees, slightly larger than an 18-point GOP advantage three months ago.
Many Republicans are trying to make Democratic leader Pelosi a focus of their campaigns. In the poll, 17 percent of voters say a candidate’s views on Pelosi will be extremely important in their vote, and Republicans lead Democrats by 16 points among this group in the generic congressional ballot.
Pelosi has a negative image, with 32 percent of Americans holding a favorable view of her, and 44 percent unfavorable. But nearly one-quarter have no opinion of the former House speaker, who could regain the gavel if Democrats flip the House. Among Republicans, she is well-known and widely disliked, with 74 percent holding unfavorable views of her, 63 percent strongly.
Democrats should tread carefully though because everyone, especially Hillary Clinton, remembers what happened last time Democrats thought they had the election in the bad.
The Post-ABC poll was conducted April 8-11 among a random national sample of 1,002 adults reached on cell phones and landline telephones. Overall results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points; the error margin is four points among the sample of 865 registered voters.