Pre-midterm generic ballot starting to look a little toilet-y

Not the best adjective, perhaps, but an appropriate one.

Before I get accused of eeyorism, let me remind you that back in May, when the GOP suddenly closed the gap with Dems, I wrote — let’s see, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven posts about it. (Fine, the seventh was in early June.) I wrote about Trump’s improving numbers too. Ed flagged some rosy poll numbers as well. Things really were looking up!

And now? Nothing but toilet before us:

Not since late February have the Dems enjoyed a lead as big as 9.5 points, which is definite blue-wave territory, and not since January 11 has their share of the generic ballot reached as high as 48.5 percent. And they may be trending higher. The last six national polls have Team Blue ahead by 13, 11, 11, 6, 14, and 13 points. No wonder they’re measuring the drapes.

What could be driving this sudden bluish tint to the electorate? Well, Trump’s job approval has tanked a bit lately…

Last week I noticed how amazingly steady POTUS’s numbers have been over the past two and half months, fluctuating within a tiny band of 43-44 percent approval in poll after poll after poll. I must have jinxed him: He’s at 41.6 today and has been dropping like a rock since late last week. How come? There have been no obvious shocks to the economy or the political order that would suddenly bump him downward. It could be, I suppose, that there’s been a delayed backlash to the Manafort and Cohen convictions. But my guess is that it’s a simple matter of voters starting to tune back into politics after ignoring it for most of the summer. Remember this tweet from an elections analyst at The Economist? I’ve posted it before:

It’s perfectly normal in a midterm election for the president’s party to enjoy a brief revival over the summer, when voters are checked out, only to begin a long slide in the fall as Americans start paying attention again. That happened for the GOP last month — for a spell, they tightened the generic ballot gap to less than four points. Maybe the slide is starting now. I sure hope not: If they’re already at -9.5 at the top of the slide, God only knows how bad this could get by November.

And let’s say it does get bad and the House flips. What does Trump do during the lame-duck session? It’s a cinch that he’ll pardon Manafort. He’ll fire Sessions too if the Senate flips as well and suddenly he’s staring at Chuck Schumer having veto power over his new AG pick in January. As for Mueller, he might calculate that the lame-duck session is the best possible time to fire him as well since the incoming House majority is likely to impeach him anyway. The sooner he rips the Russiagate band-aid off, the more time Democrats and voters will have to absorb the new reality before the new Congress is seated next year. The lame-duck session is usually one of the slowest times of the year politically. Not this year.