Wow: Democrats' generic ballot lead shrinks to just three points after 16-point lead in February

I don’t get it. Pelosi’s “yes, we will definitely raise taxes” message isn’t working for her?

This is big news, but context always counts. Look at the RCP “poll of polls” and you’ll see that it’s an outlier. No other poll taken over the past two weeks has the GOP as close as three points. Three, in fact, have Republicans trailing by eight or nine, which is no bueno in terms of holding the House. Still, it ‘s possible CNN’s data is picking up the start of yet another broad trend towards the GOP on the generic ballot. At one point in December the party trailed by an average — average — of 13 points, which is duck-and-cover territory for the midterms. The average now is around half that at 6.9 points. Still not great, but with tighter numbers here and virtually all vulnerable Senate incumbents hailing from the Democratic side, the outlook on Republicans holding the Senate keeps getting brighter.

About six months out from Election Day, 47% of registered voters say they back the Democratic candidate in their district, 44% back the Republican…

The Democrats’ advantage in the generic ballot dipped from 16 points in February to six points in March to just three points now. The party’s advantage has waned among enthusiastic voters as Republican enthusiasm has grown (in March, 36% of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters said they were very enthusiastic about voting; that’s up to 44% in the new poll), but the Democrats still have a double-digit lead among those most excited to vote this fall (53% of those who are very enthusiastic about voting say they’d back the Democrat in their district vs. 41% who say they favor the GOP candidate).

My pet theory on the raft of improving GOP poll numbers lately is that it’s a peace dividend (or pre-peace, I should say) from Trump’s outreach to North Korea. People are impressed that a guy who seems to spend most of his waking hours watching Fox News and trolling on Twitter may just be onto something in terms of getting Kim Jong Un to stand down. As views of POTUS improve, the idea of leaving the GOP in charge of Congress is bound to become more comfortable too. Still, foreign policy usually doesn’t move voters like domestic policy does. There *is* a little wind in Republican sails from the Korea negotiations, I’m sure, but usually broad trends in polling have something to do with the economy. And so here too:

On more traditional issue priorities, voters are now more apt to say the nation’s economy will be an important factor in their vote than they were in February (84% call it extremely or very important now, up from 79% in February), with immigration (from 72% important to 76% now) and taxes (from 67% important to 73% now) are also on the rise.

Today’s CNN sample is the same one that produced that flashy headline a few days ago about more Americans thinking the country is doing well than at any time since 2007. That’s also a metric that depends heavily on the economy, of course. People like what they’re seeing economically and more want it to continue. That’s probably the best nutshell explanation for why the GOP’s doing better. Korean detente is great but when you control all of government and the economy’s humming, you’re tough to beat, detente or not. Who knows? If Trump takes a six-month break from tweeting, the GOP might end up holding onto both chambers this year.

One interesting side by side for you. Here’s the last generic-ballot poll from CNN, taken in March:

And here’s the same question today:

It’s probably just statistical “noise” due to the relatively small number of independents polled, but indie support for third-party candidates has almost tripled — mostly at Democrats’ expense. When CNN asked independents whether the country would be better off with Democrats or Republicans in charge of Congress, 21 percent said the former and 23 percent said the latter. But fully 48 percent, almost a majority, said it would make no difference. It may be that some small but important number of indies who had been lightly favoring Democrats over the past six months have now shifted to ambivalence, again probably because of the economy.

Oh, one last number. In March, with the Parkland shooting and gun control still major news topics, 87 percent of Dems said guns would be important to their midterm vote versus just 72 percent of Republicans. Three months later the parties are nearly at parity. Seventy-nine percent of Dems say it’s important versus 76 percent of GOPers.

Speaking of the GOP’s odds of holding the Senate looking up, your exit quotation: