AP poll gives GOP slight edge in midterms

Surprised that this is news? Don’t be. Despite all of the talk about Republican advantages in the upcoming midterm elections, we have so far not seen much evidence for it — except, perhaps, Democratic desperation over ObamaCare. The Real Clear Politics poll average actually has Democrats edging Republicans by 1.6 points in March, with eight polls either breaking even or giving Democrats a margin-of-error lead.

So yes, a Republican edge here actually is news:

The latest Associated Press-GfK poll holds bad news for President Barack Obama, but as the November elections draw closer, there are ominous signs for congressional Democrats as well. …

Preferences for control of Congress are tight, but Republicans have gained on Democrats since January. Thirty-six percent in last month’s poll said they would rather see the Democrats in charge of Congress and 37 percent chose Republicans.

Democrats held a narrow advantage on that question in January, when 39 percent favored the Democrats and 32 percent the Republicans. …

The shift stems largely from a change among those most interested in politics.

In the new poll, registered voters who are most strongly interested in politics favored the Republicans by 14 percentage points, 51 percent to 37 percent. In January, this group was about evenly split, with 42 percent preferring Democrats and 45 percent the Republicans.

The trust questions are probably a bigger problem than Democrats would like to think. Republicans are up four on the economy, 28/24, and surprisingly lead on immigration now, 26/25. Democrats led on immigration in December, 27/23. On the other hand, Democrats lead on managing the federal government by 24/22, education by 25/18, same-sex marriage by almost double at 31/17, and abortion at 30/22. Republicans hold more traditional leads in federal budgets (27/22) and national security (34/16).

In other words, the GOP had better not be ordering the drapes for the Senate Majority Leader’s office just yet. They are in good position in terms of the specific races, but they need a national wave to cement their status — and it’s not yet here.

The 2016 race doesn’t get a great deal of attention, just a rundown of favorability on the most likely names we’ll see in that cycle. To no one’s surprise, Hillary Clinton gets the most favorable reaction at 46%, but also the second-highest unfavorable reaction too at 39%. Joe Biden’s 34/43 beats her in that category, while Chris Christie’s 26/38 comes close. Hillary is the only one on the list not to be underwater, although most of the potential candidates either have pluralities or majorities too unfamiliar with them to choose one way or the other. There isn’t anything in this poll that should discourage anyone from entering … except perhaps Joe Biden, who’s as known as he’s ever going to be.