Poll Data Bode Well for GOP, In Short Term

This CBS News Battleground Tracker poll is interesting, for a number of reasons. It was large, sampling over 2,000 Americans (not registered voters), it was taken at the height of the “separated children” hysteria (June 21-22), and cross tabs are supplied.

Given the timing of the survey, the results are mostly reassuring for Republicans. The Democrats’ generic ballot advantage is only four points–and again, respondents aren’t even registered voters, let alone likely voters. And despite the press’s coordinated effort to whip up hysteria over the separated children issue, check out this finding:

Do you approve or disapprove of how Donald Trump is handling the matter of children and parent separation at the border?

Approve: 42%
Disapprove: 58%

In general, I am not much of a believer in the “secret Trump voter” theory, but given the timing of this survey and the media tempest, I have to think that 42% is a minimum.

This finding may shed light on why so many Americans don’t buy the press’s spin:

Which of these do you think should be done with families trying to enter the U.S. illegally?

Release the entire family back to their home country together: 48%
Arrest the parents and keep the children in a separate detention facility: 4%
Arrest the parents but keep the children with them in the same detention facility: 11%
Release the entire family in the U.S. temporarily and require that they report back for a hearing later: 21%
Not sure: 16%

Note that only 21% support the Obama administration’s lax policy. This question and the responses thereto perhaps provide the clearest window into what Americans actually think about immigration:

In your view, over recent years, have recent immigrants from Mexico and Latin America made life in the state of [state] better or worse?

Better: 23%
Worse: 32%
Not had an impact either way: 45%

These poll results are also a vivid reminder that most people don’t vote in midyear elections.

As best you can recall, have you voted in a midterm election before in [state] either in 2014
or 2010?

Yes: 47%
No: 53%

Moreover, only 49% say they “definitely” will vote this year, while 9% say they “probably” will vote. Those numbers point to another low turnout.

From the Democrats’ perspective, their 4-point lead on the generic ballot doesn’t provide much comfort. Too many of their voters are concentrated in urban areas, for one thing. Piling up big margins in those districts doesn’t help. In politics, as in sports, it doesn’t matter whether you win 90-10 or 51-49.

Beyond that, Republicans, on average, are better educated and more civically minded than Democrats, and are more likely to vote in midterm elections. This CBS poll documents this clearly. Overall, 47% say they have voted in at least one of the last two midterm elections. But the breakdown is not even: 52% of Democrats say they have voted in one of those elections, compared with 64% of Republicans. (Independents are the least likely to vote.) Similarly, when asked about their intentions this year, 58% of Democrats and 63% of Republicans say they “definitely” will turn out. So the Democrats’ 4% preference margin vanishes.

There are a lot more interesting results at the link; I’d encourage you to browse. In a later post I will explain why, even though this snapshot is quite optimistic for November’s elections, it should cause concern about the country’s long-term future.

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