Before I left for a week in the beautiful Dominican Republic, I had the sense that GOP prospects for this year’s elections were on the upswing. I return to find there’s no doubt about it.
In December, the Democrats held a 15 point lead in a Monmouth poll that asked the “generic” question of whether respondents are more likely to vote for a Democratic or Republican candidate in their own district. That’s the stuff of a wave election, maybe even a tidal wave.
But the latest Monmouth generic poll finds that Democrats have only a 2 point lead. Given current districting, that’s the stuff of the GOP retaining control of the House, perhaps fairly comfortably. ( Other surveys taken in about the same time period put the Dems advantage at 5-6 points).
Not surprisingly, Monmouth’s latest polling also shows a big jump in President Trump’s popularity. His approval rating has improved by 10 points in one month.
It’s not difficult to explain why Trump and his party fare so much better in recent polling. It’s the economy and especially the tax cut.
According to The Hill, a poll by Reuters/Ipsos poll shows voters think Republicans have a better plan for jobs and employment than Democrats. The margin was 37.6 percent to 27.8 percent.
To be sure, what voters think today is not necessarily what they will think in November. If sentiment can shift dramatically in two months, it certainly can do so again in nine.
Nonetheless, the surge in GOP popularity is not without benefit. For one thing, it helps maintain party unity. Congressional Republicans have less incentive to distance themselves from the president and more incentive to work with him. Normally, that’s a plus, though it could turn into a minus if Trump’s popularity nosedives.
In addition, the prospect of Republicans holding their own in November should help with fundraising and possibly with candidate recruitment, although I imagine that ship has sailed in most contests.
Finally, I should note that Nancy Pelosi is the gift that keeps on giving. My view was that in 2018 her usefulness to Republican House candidates would finally evaporate, and that the election would be all about the president. But that was before Pelosi tried to downplay the tax cut — opposed by every member of her caucus — by opining that a $1,000 reduction in an individual’s tax burden is “crumbs.”