The advantage the Democrats thought they had in the midterm elections seems to be shrinking, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. It shows that the edge has narrowed since January. This should be a signal to party leaders and strategists that claiming a massive wave of victories in November is premature.
In fact, the poll shows that the gap between support for Democratic vs. Republican House candidates dropped by more than half since January. Along with this news, the president’s approval rating has seen a slight increase, although it remains low.
With the GOP’s House majority at risk, 47 percent of registered voters say they prefer the Democratic candidate in their district, while 43 percent favor the Republican. This four-point margin was a 12 point margin in January. When you tally the broader voting-age adults, the margin decreases to 10 points, 50 percent to 40 percent.
The Post-ABC poll found that 40 percent now approve of the president, which is up from a previous 36 percent in January. It’s the president’s highest approval rating since April of last year. The majority, 56 percent, still disapprove of Trump’s job performance. That’s the highest any president has seen at this stage in his presidency since modern polling began. This is a sign that Trump remains a liability for Republicans on November’s ballot.
The most significant shift for the GOP came among white voters who now prefer Republicans by a 14-point margin over Democrats. This is up 5 points since January. And the GOP leads in the poll by 60 percent to 31 percent among white voters without college degrees, which is larger than the 18-point advantage three months ago.
The Cook Political Report, which produces a nonpartisan analysis of the election, lists 56 of the 435 congressional districts as competitive — 51 of them in Republican hands to just five held by Democrats. That is a positive outlook for Democrats. In these competitive districts, Democrats have an edge of 50 percent to 43 percent when voters are asked which party’s candidates they would favor if the election were held today. Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats to win back the majority in the House.
Another apparent advantage for the Democrats is the parity in stated voting intentions in the Post-ABC poll. 68 percent of both Republican-leaning and Democratic-leaning registered voters say they are certain they will vote. In both 2010 and 2014, Republicans averaged a double-digit lead in intentions to vote.
61 percent of men and 56 percent of women say they are certain to vote, with 55 percent of female registered voters saying they favor a Democratic candidate and 50 percent of men favoring a Republican. Democrats need a strong turnout among women to help their candidates in November.
The gun-control debate is a wild card in the midterm election. Lawmakers are facing pressure from students nationwide to pass new laws, and several polls have shown support for restrictions aimed at curbing gun violence since the February 14th shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school.
The Post-ABC poll suggests that neither party holds an advantage in support among the 42 percent of voters who say it’s “extremely important” that a congressional candidate share their views on the issue. Three-quarters of voters who prioritize new gun laws support Democrats for Congress. But 8 out of 10 who favor protecting gun rights support the GOP candidates.
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.
Credit: Washington Post