Yes, it’s true.
Even Fox News has the Democrats ahead of Republicans by eleven points in a late summer poll asking Americans what party they will choose in the November midterm elections for the House of Representatives. The results of an average of similar polls, called the National Generic Congressional Ballot, show the Democrats about nine points ahead on the simple question: What party will you vote for in November? There are many such polls now (24 started by August 1st, according to fivethirtyeight.com), with a CNN Poll also showing Democrats 11 points ahead, and even one with the political parties in a tie on the question. The Democrats, however, have been trending stronger in August as Labor Day 2018 approaches.
The National Generic Congressional ballot poll, of course, has serious limitations since the elections take place in the 435 individual districts of the House of Representatives, and a national average does not recognize the massive variation that obviously occurs, district by district. Major political analytic groups, like Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com, or the Cook Political Report, are forecasting Democratic gains as well. Silver’s fivethirtyeight forecasts the Democrats to have a 70% chance to win the House this year (although admitting they forecast Hilary Clinton to have a 70% chance of winning the Presidential election), while the Cook Political Report forecasts Democrats winning between 20 and 40 seats this year. 23 seats is the number Democrats need to win a majority in the House. The Cook Report suggests as many as 70 districts are competitive between the two parties this year.
This is the third article I have written on the National Generic Congressional Ballot polls since this spring. I’m a hard-core Democrat, but I hope readers will view the analysis as fair-minded, as far as setting the stage is concerned. The first article, in early April, showed the Democrats were near a 7 point lead, but in May, my second article reported the lead dropped to about five points. The lead now is 9 points in the average of the many polls on this question. Silver and others have said the Democrats need the actual election results (not just the polls) to show a seven percentage point margin when all the votes of the Democratic and Republican candidates are added together across the entire country, to have the potential for winning a House majority, because so many individual districts are solidly Republican. Nate Silver, in his newest forecast, now says the magic number might be six points or less because of so many Republican retirements this year. Nonetheless, it all ultimately depends on the turnout in each individual district, and the Democrats historically have problems getting out their voters in the midterm elections.
Before looking at a number of the latest Generic Congressional Ballot polls, it’s always good to have the reality check of how Americans voted in the 2014 midterms. I served 32 years in the New York State Assembly, and the rule of thumb was to study the result of the past election to know what you needed to do to win the next one. Here is an ethnic breakdown of those EXIT POLLS in 2014, the last off-Presidential year Congressional election, from CNN and from the New York Times.
It also should be noted that the exit polls estimated the proportions of the 2014 vote were about 75% White, 12% Black, 7% Hispanic, and 6% Asian or other.
Now let’s take a look at four August 2018 Generic National Congressional Ballot polls to see how the American electorate is saying they are going to vote in November. The first is Fox News, with an overall lead for the Democrats of 11 points:
The second recent poll is The Economist/YouGov, showing the Democrats with a six-point lead:
The third poll is Rasmussen, also showing the Democrats with a five point lead. Rasmussen had a tie between the parties the week before:
The fourth and final poll, from Quinnipiac, has the Democrats with a nine-point lead:
There are 22 National Generic Congressional Ballot polls with start dates of August 1st or later as I write you just before Labor Day. The Democrats have an average lead of nine points. The four shown here offer the range: they show leads of five, six, nine, and eleven points. I chose these four because a number of the 24 polls don’t have ethnic breakdowns, or are simply the same pollster repeating regularly, so I picked their latest as I write you.
One of the most significant differences among these polls now and in 2014 is the proportion of White voters who say they are voting Democratic. In 2014, the Republicans clobbered the Democrats among the White voters who came out to vote that year, 60-38. The Fox News poll showed a 44-44 tie among Whites; the remaining polls showed narrow margins for the Republicans- Quinnipiac 49-45, Rasmussen 46-43, The Economist 46-38.
The Democrats continue to do well among Black, Hispanic, Asian, and other minority voters. Quinnipiac shows an 83-7 lead among Black voters for the Democrats, The Economist 81-10, Rasmussen 65-20. Fox New grouped all nonwhite voters together and reported the lead for Democrats among this group at 63-24. Among Hispanic voters, Quinnipiac showed a lead for the Democrats of 59-35, and The Economist 42-31. Rasmussen grouped nonwhite voters together other than Blacks and Whites and reported that poll result as 48-36. Fox, as indicated previously, grouped all nonwhite voters together at 63-24. Exit poll results from the 2016 Presidential election showed nonwhite voters voting Democratic at 74-21.
So, what’s the message these polls are giving us? The Democrats need big improvements in getting their voters to come to the polls compared to 2014, and need to persuade independents, moderates, and even a few conservatives and Republicans that a check on the abuse of power and authority by President Trump necessitates a vote for the Democratic Party this year.