The Democratic Party’s advantage on the generic ballot for the upcoming 2018 midterms has fallen by nearly ten percent, according to a new poll from CNN – a margin of victory that further calls into question the concept of a “blue wave.”
The poll found that 50% of registered voters say they would cast a ballot for a Democrat in their congressional district, while 44% say they would vote for a Republican.
While a six percentage point advantage is notable, the latest poll represents a major decline in support for the Democratic Party since February, when the same poll showed Democrats with 16-point advantage.
Despite declining support for Democrats compared to Republicans, Democratic voters are more enthusiastic about voting in November.
Approximately 51% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting in November, compared to just 36% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.
The poll also showed President Trump’s approval rating has climbed to 42% – the highest mark since he passed 100 days in office.
It is worth noting that the last time Democrats had a similar polling advantage over Republicans was in 2008, prior to the Republican-dominated redistricting that followed the 2010 Census.
Riding Obama’s coattails, Democrats picked up 23 House seats with a ten percentage point margin of victory over Republicans.
Since 2010, Democrats have not won more than eight House seats in any one election year.
As Democrats are defending Senate seats in ten states won by President Trump in 2016, while Republicans are defending only one seat in a state won by Hillary Clinton, the prospects of Democrats recapturing the Senate were dim even before the latest poll showing their evaporating polling advantage.
The generic polling and enthusiasm gap will most impact the race to control the House, where Democratic enthusiasm and decreased Republican turnout could still be enough to flip control of the chamber despite the shrinking Democratic polling advantage.
In the recent special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district, Democrat Conor Lamb narrowly defeated Republican Rick Saccone by approximately 670 votes – a margin of 0.2 percent.
As President Trump won the district by 20 points in 2016, the special election result demonstrated a nearly identical swing to the Democrats – a problematic sign as there are 118 districts currently represented by Republicans less friendly to the GOP than Pennsylvania’s 18th district, including almost twenty where the Republican incumbent is not running for election.
In addition, a vacancy in Ohio’s 12th congressional district set for a special election on August 7th could also become difficult for Republicans.
Of course, there is no chance Democrats will capture all 118 of those seats as most of those races will not feature a Republican candidate as inept as Saccone or a residual Democratic voting history similar to Pennsylvania’s 18th district.
However, a notably depressed Republican turnout in enough districts carried by Trump by narrower margins than Pennsylvania’s 18th district could spell trouble for Republican efforts to maintain control of the House.
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