Analysis: Democrats Leading in Congressional Generic Ballot Post-Roe by Almost 2 Points

Analysis: Democrats Leading in Congressional Ballot Post-Roe

This new election analysis builds on three earlier onesThe Strategic Context For The 2022 Elections Is ChangingAnalysis: Red Wave? Hard To See One Now, and Analysis: Democrats Make Big Gains in 3 New Polls – It’s A New Election.  You can also find a new recording of Simon's 20 minute presentation of this data from Friday, July 8th.

We are pleased elements of this work have been cited in new articles by John Harwood on the CNN site, Greg Sargent in the Washington Post, Peter Nicholas on the NBC News site, Susan Milligan in US News, Nicholas Riccardi in the AP, Eleanor Clift in The Daily Beast, John Skolnick in Salon, AB Stoddard in The Bulwark and Peter Weber in The Week. Simon also did an indepth election review with Ian Masters last Tuesday night for his radio show/podcast and Joe Trippi discusses our analysis in his podcast, That Trippi Show.  And we appreciate this shoutout from DNC Chair Jaime Harrison!

A new front page Washington Post story on the 2022 election by Michael Scherer, Coby Itkowitz and Josh Dawsey features this quote from Simon: “The question is, are there forces in the election more powerful than the disappointment in Biden?” asked Simon Rosenberg, a Democratic strategist. “The answer is yes, and that is opposition and fear for MAGA, which is the thing that has driven the last two elections.” Ron Brownstein gives our political thesis serious consideration in a new CNN analysis.

The Generic Turns Positive for Democrats - There have now been 9 polls reporting out the Congressional Generic (via 538) since Roe ended, and they have averaged 45.4 D/43.7 R (+1.7 Dem).  Taking out Rasmussen it’s +2.5 Dem.  It has been -2 to -2.5 Dem for many months.  This data suggests the race has moved 3-5 points to the Democrats in recent weeks.  Five of the nine polls show meaningful movement towards the Democrats since their last poll, and several show large Dem leads now in the generic: 

                            Last Poll   New Poll  Dem Shift

NPR/Marist         44-47          48-41         +10

Monmouth           43-50          46-48          +5 

Big Village           44-42          47-42          +3 

Yahoo/YouGov    43-39          45-38          +3 

Politico/Morn C   42-42          45-42          +3

In new comprehensive polls of battleground states Future Majority found the Congressional Generic shifting from 43-45 (-2) in March to 44-42 (+2) now, a 4 point shift.  Just added a chart at the bottom of new Navigator polling which shows a 24 point favorability drop for Republicans with independents, and 10 points overall.  That is a big very number in a very short amount of time.

FM’s new research and others who track voter intensity are seeing significant increases on the Democratic side.  See this from Morning Consult - Democratic Voters’ Enthusiasm for Midterms Spikes in Wake of Supreme Court’s Abortion Ruling.  In FM’s battleground survey for the first time this cycle more Democrats (92%) said they were more extremely motivated to vote than Republicans (89%).  

A review of recent Senate polling strongly suggests if the election were held today Democrats would retain the Senate and perhaps even pick up a few seats. The NYTimes has a good Senate overview today, and that new polling from Future Majority finds a far better Senate landscape for Democrats: 

AZ – Kelly leads Masters, 48-39, Lamon 47-41.  He trailed a generic Republican 43-45 in March. 

GA – Warnock leads Walker 48-44.  He trailed 48-49 in March.

NH – Hassan leads Bolduc 49-40.  They didn’t poll NH in March.  

NV – Cortez Masto leads Laxalt 46-43.  She trailed Laxalt 43-45 in March.  

Republicans are showing significant weakness now in their seats.  Fetterman has meaningful leads in several recent polls, and now has to be considered a favorite in that race.  Ron Johnson trailed 3 of his 4 opponents in a new Marquette University poll, a poll that suggests that Johnson – even before Roe and his admitted involvement in Trump’s effort to overturn the election – is in serious trouble.  There have been polls showing Democratic leads in NC and OH though those races are considered by many a bit tougher.  Bottom line – Dems are in our book now favorites to keep the Senate, and have a shot at picking up 1-2 seats.  If we get two seats and keep the House filibuster carve ours for codifying Roe and election reform become real possibilities next year. 

The only real data we have for the House itself so far is an actual election which took place last week.  The Democrat running in a Special Election in NE-2 the Democratic candidate lost by 6-7 points in a district Trump won by 11.  This result was suprising on many levels, and once again supports the notion that there is no red wave, and that things are actually moving towards the Democrats.

What happened? What about Biden’s approval rating? 

We think many political analysts have been overly reliant on Biden’s low approval rating to craft their forecasts this cycle, and overly discounted how hard it would be for Republicans to win back voters who had just voted against MAGA twice in record numbers.  Remember that since Trump won the nomination in 2016 the average Dem margin in those 3 elections was Dem +5, and in the last two it was Dem +6.5 in very high turnout elections.  In those three election Republicans never got above 46.9 (46.1/44.8/46.9), and Democrats never below 48.2 (48.2/53.6/51.4).  The main questions of this election were always – 

-  Would the anti-MAGA majority show up again given the GOP’s intense embrace of MAGA, extremism this cycle? 

-  Realistically, how high would the GOP’s ceiling be this year given that running as MAGA they hadn’t ever broken 47%? Could they turn disappointment in Dems into a wave given their extremism? 

While in many elections disappointment in the party in power leads people to vote for the other party, that dynamic, given that the Rs have run towards a politics a clear majority had just rejected twice, was never a given this year.  It would be easy for a voter to be disappointed in Biden and still vote straight Democratic.  As I wrote in a previous analysis it was hard to find Republicans near or over 50 in any competitive race pre-Roe, something that suggests they were struggling to break past that 47% ceiling.  In the nine post-Roe Congressional Generic polls the GOP sits at 43.9%.  Republicans are underperforming in the PA and WI Senate races, and are not clearly ahead in any Dem held seat. All of this suggests that the typical midterm dynamic so many analysts have assumed would kick in just isn’t manifesting this cycle. Biden's approval rating just matter less than usual. 

The events of recent weeks have made the chance of that dynamic kicking in against the Democrats far less likely, and that we are now looking at a competitive, atypical midterm. Mass shootings, extremist abortion restrictions, a massive GOP led conspiracy to overturn an election, an out of control and partisan Supreme Court – this is ugly stuff, the kind of stuff that can cause a party to lose an election.  Would all of this MAGA ugly and extremism become a more powerful force in the election than disappointment in Biden and worries about inflation? Of course it could.  Opposition to MAGA was the main driver of the last two elections, and has, in all likelihood, become the main driver of this one too.  For the extremism and illiberalism of the MAGA/GOP is actually the most important issue in American politics today, with nothing else even close.  In the latest Economist/YouGov poll the favorability of Congressional Democrats is -12, but Congressional Republicans are -27.  These are really intense negatives to overcome.    

Looking ahead, analysts should consider that the ugliness of MAGA could get far worse in the coming months, not better.  More mass shootings are likely to occur.  Right wing terror could return and escalate. Students could be forced against their will into public religious prayer and study groups.  Terrible stories about doctors getting arrested, 10-year-olds being forced to give birth, women being chased across state lines and some in distress not getting treated will become widely, repeatedly known.  We will learn more about the vast conspiracy involving hundreds of Republican leaders and staff to illegally overturn an American election.  More subpoenas of high-level Republicans will continue.  Indictments and arrests could even begin.  

For Democrats, there is now an opportunity to create a new far more positive frame for this election.  One that starts with a strong recovery, millions of new jobs and rising wages, talks about our ongoing work get inflation down despite Putin’s aggression, makes clear what we will do with power next year and then ends with a powerful and intense indictment of the GOP’s radicalization and extremism, MAGA.  It is time for offense now, not defense.  We liked the way Gavin Newsom played all this in his new ad challenging DeSantis in Florida.  Way we need to be talking, thinking now – we need to take it to them and get out of our defensive crouch.  

Our goal should be to give Joe Biden at least two new Senators and keep the House.  This goal is now a doable one, and as one of the most capable leaders likes to say “we can do hard things.” Let’s get to work people.  It’s a new day.

This analysis was originally posted on Wed, July 6th and has been updated several times.