Hmmm: Generic ballot gap suddenly narrowing?

Nice polling, kid. Don’t get cocky. Andrew Clark noticed a trend in recent generic congressional ballot polling that seems to cut across the media narrative at the moment. After a few weeks of momentum, Democratic support appears to be deflating at the moment:

Interestingly, the Rasmussen poll gives Democrats their largest margin in any poll taken over the last two weeks. IBD/TIPP would normally be considered Trump- or GOP-friendly, but bear in mind that their most recent iteration prior to this week had Democrats up by eight points, 48/40, in late June. Democrats lost four points in the gap from Reuters’ previous report two weeks ago, while the Economist had Republicans trailing by eight less than a month ago, 45/37.

So Clark’s correct in that there seems to be a general trend toward narrowing the gap. However, a look at the RCP chart for the the last three-plus months shows that the news isn’t all good, either:

Most of the changes over the last three months have been in Democratic support, not GOP enthusiasm. Over the last week there’s been a little bump in Republican amplitude, but their support line has been more flat than the Democrats. The narrowing in this case seems to be mostly from Democrats declining slightly from their peak over the late spring and summer.

Since this is a zero-sum game, that’s not an entirely bad development for Republicans. However, their inability thus far to break that 41% level suggests a concerning lack of enthusiasm for Republican control of Congress, which might be a very big problem as voters make their final decisions in the midterms. Another data point on enthusiasm comes from Dave Wasserman, who notes that at least thus far Democrats are overperforming in special elections this cycle, even if they’re not winning:

Democrats poured a lot of resources into those races, but so did Republicans. It might be true that Democratic enthusiasm will even out in the full expanse of 435 House races in November, but at least they have that enthusiasm. There isn’t a lot of evidence for Republican enthusiasm, either in polling or in these House primaries.

So yes, for now we can celebrate this trend. Unless it starts coming with some amplitude on the GOP’s support line, however, don’t expect it to last.

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