Given the speed at which Trump-era news cycles move, I should stress that I’m writing this at 5:30 p.m. ET. By the time you read it, eight to 10 different major news stories might have broken that’ll affect the midterms dramatically one way or another. And 2018 being what it is, they’re apt to be off-the-wall crazy. Michael Avenatti might prove that Kavanaugh has spent the last 30 years secretly moonlighting as a pimp. Trump might fire Rod Rosenstein and then nominate him to the Supreme Court in lieu of Kavanaugh. Jeff Sessions might get caught smoking crack.
The only limit to the 2018 show is your imagination.
For the moment, though, some surprising and encouraging news for Team Red. My top three guesses for why views of the GOP are improving: 1. The economy. 2. The economy. 3. The economy.
Rarely does the right lead the left in overall favorability, as you can see. The last time it happened was in … late 2014, right before the red-wave midterms that year. Previously it happened in … late 2010, right before the red-wave midterms of *that* year. Second look at Trump’s “red wave” predictions?
RCP’s generic-ballot numbers are interesting today too. Democrats are on the cusp of their best numbers of the entire Trump presidency. Whereas Republicans have set their best numbers of the entire Trump presidency. Each party has either broken through its individual ceiling or is about to:
Until this past Saturday, the GOP had never touched 41 percent on the generic ballot. They’re at 41.3 percent now. Only once before, during Trump’s December doldrums of last year, had Democrats reached as high as 49 percent. They’re at 49.1 percent today, down a tenth of a point from their new high that was set over the weekend. What we’re probably seeing here is fencesitters beginning to take sides as the midterms approach. For months the two parties combined for 85 percent or so on the generic ballot; now, as undecideds start making up their minds, they’re over 90.
Which is not to say that those undecideds were all “true” undecideds. Read through the Gallup data and you’ll see that there’s been next to zero change in different groups’ support for Democrats over the past year but a notable rise in self-identified Republicans who view the GOP favorably. Last September just 67 percent of Republicans and leaners had a favorable view of the party. Now 85 percent do. A year ago, Democrats were viewed more favorably, 46/36, by middle-class voters (households with income between $30,000-$74,999). This year Republicans have come all the way back to take the lead, 49/45. There may have been a sizable minority of Republican-leaning voters last year who were fatigued by Trump’s antics and bummed at the failure of ObamaCare repeal. A year later, after 12 more months of excellent job reports and with tax cuts in the bank, they don’t care so much about the antics anymore.
Now all the party has to do is make up around eight points on the generic ballot and not let the Kavanaugh fiasco, which is already polling badly for them, turn into a total debacle. Piece of cake. The latest House model from YouGov, by the way: Democrats 224, Republicans 211.