Republicans’ chances in 2018 just keep getting bleaker

Posted at 5:31 PM, Sep 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-12 19:31:01-04

The relevant question at this point in the 2018 election — 55 days before the vote — is not whether this will be a good election for House Democrats, but rather, how good an election it will be.

And, according to three new national polls released over the last 24 hours, the answer to that is: A very, very good election.

A new Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed Democrats with a 52% to 38% edge on the generic ballot question. (“Would you vote for the Democratic candidate or the Republican candidate in your congressional district?”). An NPR/Marist poll showed a similar 12-point margin on the generic ballot. A Politico/Morning Consult survey showed Democrats with a 10-point bulge.

Historically, the generic ballot is regarded as a weathervane that, generally speaking, predicts which direction the wind is blowing — and how hard — in the national environment. While Democrats regularly enjoy a small edge in the generic ballot, double-digit leads for Democrats usually predict major seat swings.

In 2006, when Democrats won 30 seats and retook the House majority, Democrats had an 11.5 point edge in the generic ballot. In 2010, when Republicans won more than 5 dozen seats (and the majority), they ended the election with a 9-point bulge in the generic ballot.

In isolation, the generic ballot might not spell total doom and gloom. But when you consider the fact that in only three midterm elections since the end of the Civil War has the President’s party not lost House seats, and the fact that President Trump is now in the mid to upper 30s in job approval, you grasp that the first Tuesday in November is starting to look very, very dark for Republicans.

The Point: Could things change? Sure. The possibility for change exists all the way until the final weekend of any election. But traditionally, dynamics like the generic ballot don’t change all that much once the fall arrives.  Republicans have to hope against hope that this year is a historical anomaly. It may be the best (only?) hope they have left.

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