[A new CNN] poll finds 54% of registered voters say they back a Democrat in their congressional district, 38% say they back a Republican. That’s a shift in favor of the Democrats since January, bringing their advantage in a hypothetical generic matchup to about the same level as early 2006, a year in which the party won control of both the House and the Senate.
This also mirrors their advantage on the question last fall, before a January full of good economic news brought a shift toward more positive numbers for both President Donald Trump and his party. The same poll also found Trump’s approval rating declining — a metric that’s frequently closely tied to his party’s performance in a midterm election year.
Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are more excited (51 percent) about the election than are their GOP (41 percent) counterparts.

In other words, voters might be feeling better about the tax bill, but they aren’t feeling better about Trump or Republicans. In part that’s because voters care more about issues on which Democrats have the more popular position (sexual harassment, guns, health care) than they do about taxes. Concern about guns has spiked. “In October 2014, ahead of the first election after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, just 28% of voters described that issue as extremely important to their congressional vote. Now, 49% say the same. The numbers have risen across party lines, but most dramatically among Democrats.” Moreover, 45 percent say they’d be less likely to vote for a candidate who accepted National Rifle Association money, while only 14 percent said they’d be more likely.

However, Republicans might not be getting a boost from the tax bill, because most Americans haven’t gotten those highly touted bonuses (only about 2 percent have) or seen a change in their paycheck. Last week a Politico-Morning Consult poll found, “Just a quarter of registered voters, 25 percent, say they have noticed an increase in their paycheck. … A majority, 51 percent, say they have not.” That may be because many Americans pay little or no income tax, so it’s just high earners who enjoy noticeable cuts.

AD
AD

Underneath the top-line numbers are some serious demographic challenges for the GOP. Women favor Democrats by a gigantic 62 percent to 32 percent margin; among men the margin is 47 to 44. Trump’s base — non-college-educated whites — prefers a GOP-led Congress by just a hair (47/45) compared with nonwhites, who favor Democrats by a huge margin (66/26), as do independents (50/35) and college graduates (62/32).

Those are national averages, but the picture isn’t any brighter for Republicans when you drill down into specific states. Even in red states, Republicans face some scary numbers. David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report notes that even in Texas — yes, Texas — Trump is exceptionally unpopular (below 40 percent). Turnout in the early primary voting is remarkably high, as noted in Wasserman’s Twitter thread, with Democrats casting 75 percent more ballots than in 2014 so far, and Republicans casting only 8 percent more. Add in the plight of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) participants, which may boost Hispanic turnout, and Democrats may have further reason for optimism. And finally, Democrats have done a better job this cycle with candidate recruitment. While Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) remains a favorite, the leading Democratic contender has topped Cruz in fundraising by a substantial amount. (The Dallas Morning News reported: “Cruz raised $800,000 through Feb. 14. That’s well below El Paso Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s $2.3 million haul, according to the most recent federal report.”)

Moreover, Democrats are also maximizing their chances by fielding candidates — practically everywhere. The Brookings Institution finds:

AD
AD
[Democrats] have challengers with more than $100,000 in more than 90 percent of the seats that lean Democrat, or that lean Republican by 5 points or less. In open-seat races (where incumbency is not a factor working against them) the Democrats are also contesting 86 percent of the seats that lean Republican by 6-10 points. Thus, the Democrats are not only targeting the most obvious races with an underlying Democratic partisanship. Sticking to these races would not give them a chance to gain 24 seats. Instead, they are also reaching into their opponents’ territory, looking to pick up districts that normally swing Republican.

We caution that there is a political eternity between now and Election Day. The economy may take off, the Russia probe may fizzle and Democrats could overplay their hand (or become complacent). However, if you think that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is closing in on Trump and that Trump will continue to infuriate a solid majority of the public (with everything from racist comments to inaction on guns to egregious conflicts of interest), then you have to give the Democrats good odds of at least flipping the House majority.

Read more by Jennifer Rubin:

AD
AD