by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
An analysis of recent elections shows that Democrats’ chances of holding onto one or both congressional majorities might be better than previously expected, even with President Joe Biden’s support in free fall.
Biden’s poll numbers have cratered in recent months, with any number of aggregates showing his approval currently hovering between 30% and 40%.
However, one analysis concluded Tuesday that generic congressional ballot polling, which asks respondents if they would vote for a nameless Republican or Democrat running in their district, is a significantly more accurate predictor of midterm results than presidential approval ratings.
Across the previous four elections, FiveThirtyEight found, generic polling “missed” the House national popular vote margin by 2.5 points on average, compared to a 5.5 point average margin of error for presidential approval ratings.
That would mean Democrats are significantly more competitive with Republicans in 2022 than Biden’s numbers suggest. Democrats trail on generic ballots by just 1 point heading into late July. For comparison, Biden’s current net approval rating of minus 19 points marks the worst differential recorded by any president at this point in his term, dating back to Harry Truman.
One Democratic strategist suggested to the Washington Examiner that the current generic gap could be quickly erased with just a few more legislative pushes.
“The whole narrative heading into this cycle has been focused on voter enthusiasm,” that person explained. “Basically, progressives who voted for Biden in 2020 against Trump look like they won’t turn out in 2022 after the administration and party leadership failed to make any significant strides on most of the issues they care about. Throw in seismic abortion loss, and you’ve got the makings of a red wave.” …
… A senior Democratic aide similarly suggested to the Washington Examiner that Republicans’ own vocal campaigning and proclaimed “vision” for the future of the country will also significantly drive Democratic voter turnout.