Poll: Despite Trump Travails, GOP Still Tied with Dems on Congressional Ballot

Posted: Jun 28, 2016 10:27 AM

Donald Trump's public polling fade in June is well-documented, so we won't belabor it here. One cause for GOP optimism in the new NBC/WSJ numbers we mentioned yesterday is that in spite of the presumptive nominee's struggles, his historic unpopularity does not appear to be the drag on down-ballot Republican candidates that many feared -- at least not yet. It's still early, but perhaps Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are breathing a little bit easier after seeing this data point:

Tied today, versus trailing by 19 points at this point in the 2008 cycle, according to the same polling series. In case you'd forgotten/repressed what happened eight years ago, Barack Obama's coattails and the Republican Party's post-Bush unpopularity led to a blue wave at the Congressional level. House Democrats built on the majority they seized in 2006, adding 21 additional seats. They would need nearly every single one of those 257 seats to ram through a failed law two years later, for which they've paid a steep political price. Senate Democrats' caucus swelled to 59 seats, which tipped to 60 when Arlen Specter switched parties. If Trump's nomination is on the brink of dealing his adoptive party a devastating setback a la 2008, we've yet to see strong or consistent evidence to support that.  Another contextual note:

It's fair to point out that 2014 was a midterm cycle, in which Republicans tend to fare better than in presidential years due to turnout disparities (although Republicans dominated contested races that attracted high turnout two years ago).  It's a virtual guarantee that this November's electorate will more Democratic than what we saw in 2014, but this poll suggests that a significant number of voters are open to ticket-splitting, and that Trump is not acting as an anchor around the entire party's neck at this stage of the campaign.  Indeed, former Democratic strategist and former Obama operative Bill Burton told an audience at Politicon over the weekend that much of the voter research data he's seen thus far indicates that many Americans are drawing distinctions between Trump and the Republican Party writ large.  That helps explain why tepid Trump endorsers McConnell and Ryan have given their members a green light to either embrace or stiff-arm Trump, based on the dynamics of their discrete races and constituencies.  Should Trump rebound in the polls, that would obviously redound to his party's benefit.  But if he continues to trail -- or if his standing recedes further -- many GOP office-seekers and incumbents may find a fairly receptive audience for a message of electing Republicans to the House and Senate as a check against Hillary Clinton, who is widely disliked and distrusted by voters.  And for very good reason (video via the Free Beacon):

Recommended Townhall Video