Generic ballot predicts Democratic gains in 2018

According to The Washington Post, a new CNN poll has good news for the Democratic Party.

The poll asked voters if they would vote for a generic Republican or a generic Democrat in the 2018 elections. Voters favored the generic Democratic candidate by 16 percentage points, 54 percent to 38 percent.

Polling experts stress that generic ballot questions are not necessarily good predictors of actual results because they do not take factors like district lines into account. However, the poll suggests Democrats might have a legitimate chance to take back the House majority in 2018.

Historically, a new president’s party does poorly in his first midterm election. Given President Trump’s historic levels of unpopularity, some Republican strategists are concerned.

Democrats have won the “generic ballot” question in every non-partisan poll conducted in 2017. However, their margin of victory in the recent CNN poll is the largest so far. Earlier in the year, the generic Democrat was polling around 45 percent.

The generic Democrat polled better than the generic Republican among independent voters. However, the margin was very narrow – 44 percent to 42 percent. That might be the most disturbing result to Republican officials. Republicans generally do very well with independent voters. In recent elections, independents have favored Republicans over Democrats by margins of 6 to 20 percentage points.

The last time the generic Democratic candidate polled this strongly was 2008. In the 2008 election, Barack Obama was elected President and the Democrats won a majority in the Senate.

However, CNN’s Will Jordan observed that Democrats have won on the generic ballot every year since 2006. In reality, they were beaten handily by the Republicans in the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections. While the Democrats only won the generic ballot by one point in 2010, polls had them winning the generic ballot by a six-point margin in 2014.

Despite these cautions, political observers agree the Republican Party will need to work on recapturing some voters if they wish to do well in 2018.

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