An internal Republican National Committee survey that was leaked to Bloomberg Businessweek shows several worrying trends for Republicans as the midterm elections approach.
The polling, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies for the RNC, found that many Trump-supporting Republicans simply do not believe that Democrats have a chance of winning control of Congress in November. Republicans worry that this complacency might cause some GOP voters to stay home on Election Day while Democratic voters turn out in force. If that happens, consider the Trump agenda dead in Congress.
Here are the most worrisome findings, reported by Businessweek:
Fully half of self-identified Republicans don’t believe Democrats are likely to win back the House. And within that group, 57 percent of people who describe themselves as strong Trump supporters don’t believe Democrats have a chance (37 percent believe they do). …
Overall, 71 percent of respondents said it was ‘extremely’ or ‘somewhat likely’ that Democrats would prevail in November, vs. 25 percent who disagreed. …
A generic congressional ballot shows the Democratic candidate leading the Republican by 9 points. …
The RNC study also finds “a wide gender gap and generation gap,” with the Democrat favored by women of all ages and also by men aged 18-44. Only men older than 45 preferred the Republican candidate, by a 15-point margin. The study notes, “the Democrat(ic) party holds an image advantage over the GOP.”
“If overconfident Republican voters stay home, Democrats could win a landslide,” Josh Green writes. “The report urges GOP officials to yank their voters back to reality: ‘We need to make real the threat that Democrats have a good shot of winning control of Congress.'”
But even as generic ballot polls show Democrats with the edge and President Trump’s approval rating dropping, congressional Republicans continue to insist that the booming economy will shield the GOP majority.
“At the end of the night, when people look at their paycheck and they look at the discretionary funds that they have today that they didn’t have two years ago, they will say, ‘I may not like the president, but I like the policies,’” Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., recently told The Hill.
The good news is the RNC survey found respondents did approve of the economy and the direction of the country:
The national mood is more positive than in recent midterm elections, with 40 percent of voters saying the country is moving in the “right direction” (vs. 26 percent in the 2014 election, and 32 percent in 2010). Those positive feelings extend beyond the president’s largely white base—at least on economic matters. A majority of black and Hispanic voters reported that they’re satisfied with the economy.
The bad news is that among “soft” Republican voters, voters whom the GOP needs to turn out to keep its majorities, Trump policies polled lower than policies that favor Democrats:
The survey found that increasing funding for veterans’ mental health services, strengthening and preserving Medicare and Social Security, and reforming the student loan system all scored higher than Trump’s favored subjects of tax cuts, border security, and preserving the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
The study notes: “Special attention should be paid to the messaging regarding Social Security and Medicare … the challenge for GOP candidates is that most voters believe that the GOP wants to cut back on these programs in order to provide tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.”
This RNC survey should serve as a five-alarm fire for conservatives. Keep this polling in context with what we know from the primary elections this year. Democrats have outraised Republicans $424M to $362M. There is an enthusiasm gap, with Democratic voters more eager to head to the polls to oppose Trump than Republican voters are ready to support the GOP majorities. Historical trends show the minority party flipping the House in the first midterm election of a new president. The RNC study says that “research indicates the determining factor in this election is how voters feel about President Trump,” and President Trump is unpopular.
All signs point to Democrats taking the House of Representatives. So what are conservatives going to do about it? Say the polls are fake news and stay home? Don’t worry? That’s bad.
There’s only one way to prevent Democrats from taking control of Congress and blocking the Trump agenda: Vote.
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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