Don't Color the Political Map Blue Just Yet by John Zogby
Here we are at the beginning of June and thus far politically, everything seems to be coming up roses for the Democrats. They have picked up 6 House seats already in special elections, had a surprise victory in the Alabama Senate seat won by Doug Jones, are picking up much needed state legislative seats, nominating and electing a record number of women (in a record pool of women candidates), and are bringing out voters within the Obama Coalition to vote – notably young women and young non-whites.
But it is far too early to predict a “blue wave” in November. As I have written before, the voter mood on the economy and direction of the country is decidedly more optimistic. So are the marks that President Donald Trump is receiving on handling his job and the US economy. At the very least, this alone can mean two things.
First, that Mr. Trump’s GOP base will again be energized to vote in November for Republicans, especially those he feels compelled to rally for. Second, the pressure will be on for the Obama Coalition to continue to turnout in big numbers, something they have been less inclined to do during off year elections. Further, with substantial numbers of younger voters, women, and non-whites feeling better about the economy and their own future, there is a countervailing force that may dampen enthusiasm for voting.
I have looked at the recent polling in the top US Senate races this year, and things are not home free for the Democrats yet – even under pretty favorable conditions. When I look at the ten top competitive Senate seats for which there has been some recent polling, no clear picture emerges.
For example, in Indiana, incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly is in a tie (46%-47%) with his GOP opponent, as are Nevada Republican Dean Heller (41%-40%), the open seat in Arizona (tied at 31%), and Democrat Heidi Heidkamp in North Dakota (43%-40%). Not only are these virtual ties, but there are substantial numbers of undecided voters in all of these. Governor Rick Scott leads Democrat Senator Bill Nelson 44%-40% -- but both are polling very low for two of the best known names in Florida.
West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Missouri’s Claire McCaskill are two Democrats who are polling 48% as of today and lead by 3 or 4 points, so they can expect a dizzying amount of money spent by special interests to chip away at their support. Two Democrats and one Republican look safe today – Sherrod Brown leads by 14 points in Ohio, Ted Cruz is now ahead 9 in Texas, and Bob Case is up 16 points against an anti-Hispanic Trump supporter in Pennsylvania. There is clearly no shape here to make a projection.
On the House side, Democrats only need to pick up 17 seats to get back a majority. I have already alluded to internal squabbles between progressives aligned with Senator Bernie Sanders and the more establishment moderates from the Clinton wing of the party.
But the congressional generic ballot now shows a 1 point (Rasmussen) and 3 point leads (Economist/You Gov) for the Democrats- historically not enough for the Democrats to make a significant dent. The YouGov Poll (taken May 27-29) shows men leaning GOP 44%-39% while women give an 11 point nod to the Democrats (45%-34%)- but 21% of women are still not sure. Will they vote? For the Democrats to take back control, women will need to show up in big numbers.
Also important is that Democrats lead among African Africans 73% to 10% -- on the right track, but why are 11% undecided? In my observations over the past 4 decades, that 11% means they may not vote. The same with the Democrats’ lead of 49% to 29% among Hispanics – with 12% undecided.
Summer is coming soon. And there will be a lot of hot air on television and online about both candidates in many of your districts. As of now, nothing has been decided.
John Zogby (@TheJohnZogby) is the founder of the Zogby Poll and Zogby companies, including John Zogby Strategies, and author of We Are Many We Are One: Neo-Tribes and Tribal Analytics in the 21st Century America.