Our latest NBC/WSJ poll finds Democrats with a 10-point lead in congressional preference, with Dems holding the advantage in enthusiasm and among independents, and with college-educated white women breaking heavily against the GOP. But there’s another ominous sign for Republicans in our poll: They’re losing ground on the congressional-preference question in GOP-held congressional districts. . .
Sixty percent of Democratic voters say they have a high degree of interest in the upcoming elections (registering either a “9” or “10” on a 10-point scale), versus 54 percent of Republicans who say the same thing. In addition, 64 percent of 2016 Clinton voters say they have a high level of interest, compared with 57 percent of 2016 Trump voters.
And among independent voters, Democrats lead in congressional preference by 12 points, 48 percent to 36 percent.
In GOP-held districts, the GOP preference of 14 points in January dropped to zero. “Given that so much of the 2018 House battleground is in red/purple areas, the GOP being in single digits — or even — in Republican-held districts is a problem.” That would be an understatement.
Moreover, Democrats hold huge leads among millennials (59 to 29 percent), women (57 to 34 percent), whites with a college degree (55 to 42 percent), independents (48 to 36 percent) and older voters (52 to 41 percent) The older voter numbers are especially problematic because older voters turn out in higher numbers in midterms than other groups and because this was previously a base of President Trump’s support (Trump won over-65 voters by a margin of 52 to 47 percent on Election Day while Republican House candidates won this group by a 53 to 45 percent margin.)
Even among groups in which the GOP leads, the GOP margin has shriveled in comparison with Trump’s Election Day numbers. The GOP leads among men by only 3 points (47 to 44 percent) in contrast with Trump’s 52 to 41 percent margin on Election Day. Even among whites with no college degree, whom Trump won by a huge margin (66 to 29 percent) and Republican House candidates won 66 to 31 percent, the GOP lead is down to 11 points (50 to 39 percent). It is only among self-described Republicans where Republicans dominate. That makes perfect sense in a way since the GOP has been governing on taxes, immigration, regulation, health care, etc. — like the whole country is CPAC.
Throw in the three to five seats Democrats are likely to pick up in Pennsylvania thanks to the court-ordered redistricting and it is looking rather bleak for Republicans.
There are a few takeaways here.
First, while Trump’s approval is low, the GOP’s leadership is worse, making them an inviting target for Democrats. Just as Republicans like to run against Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), it might be time to start making House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) the poster boy for irresponsible governance, disregard of the middle class (the tax plan was largely his baby) and refusal to check the executive branch.
That leads to the second key point: There is an honest argument to be made that Trump would be a better president with a Democratic Congress. His conflicts and corruption would be curtailed, his nominees would have to be of higher quality to get through and infrastructure and immigration deals certainly could get done.
Finally, you say, “But Democrats will drag us through impeachment!” Frankly, we don’t know that. It depends on what Robert S. Mueller finds, when the results of his investigation are public (why impeach Trump a year before he’s going anyway) and whether Democrats conclude it is in their best interest to run against a wounded Trump in 2020 rather than set up a partisan divide that will make today’s political environment seem like a love-fest. We can, however, be fairly certain that these Republicans will never take serious action against Trump no matter what. Reelecting Republicans to majorities in both houses is a green light for Trump to fire Mueller, double down on his extreme agenda and whack away at our democratic institutions and norms.