A trend we've been following is showing up in Democrats' internal surveys, McClatchy reports, as a top Democratic pollster is warning that based on the emerging data, the party's expected 2018 midterm layup victories may not materialize as easily as assumed -- if at all. These results were shared with the media as an obvious wake-up call to guard against complacency and to urge Democrats to focus attacks against Trump's policies. Some specifics:
A leading Democratic group — Priorities USA — is warning party leaders they could squander a strong political climate in 2018 if they don't start to emphasize pocketbook issues over loose and unfocused critiques of Donald Trump. According to internal polling by the super PAC, President Trump's approval rating climbed to 44 percent in the first week of February, compared to 53 percent who disapprove. That mirrors Trump's improving position in public polls. In November, the same survey found his approval rating at 40 percent, with 54 percent disapproving. The group’s survey also showed the Democratic Party’s generic ballot advantage had shrunk, with 46 percent preferring Democrats to 42 percent for Republicans...Democrats, the memo said, must “not allow themselves to be sidetracked and distracted by Trump’s latest tweets.” “While still on track for a successful November, the extent of Democratic gains will be blunted if Democrats do not reengage more aggressively in speaking to the economic and health care priorities of voters,” it said.
Takeaway from that Priorities USA memo is Democrats are losing the initiative on the economy, which is what drives voters. Dems have focused plenty on issues like Russia + immigration + Trump's character, which seem baked into his numbers.— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) February 13, 2018
But look at these shifts: pic.twitter.com/DIXEQ1f8S3
Trump's approval on tax policy has swung 20 points (sound familiar?) from (-16) to (+4), and his overall economic number is even better. The polling memo recommends that Democrats re-focus on the economy and healthcare, but that's hardly an airtight plan, for reasons I explained on Dana Perino's show:
Democrats are divided on healthcare policy (split between protecting the Obamacare mess they created, and pursuing an extraordinarily unaffordable government-run scheme) -- and it's tough to talk about "pocketbook issues" when Republican policies are helping people's finances. Democrats can claim they're for the middle class, but every one of them voted 'no' on middle class tax cuts, which people are starting to feel. Support for the GOP-passed law hasn't rocketed upward because people have forgotten about it; it's shot up because people are feeling its impact. And that impact is very, very different than what Democrats claimed it would be. That's why the opposition party, stuck on insulting talking points, suddenly finds itself playing defense:
America is warming up to the Republican tax cuts — and Democrats are starting to get worried. Recent surveys have found growing support for the GOP overhaul of the tax code amid relentless messaging from Republicans and a barrage of businesses announcing bonuses and pay increases...Democrats have also stumbled in their attempts to frame the law as primarily benefiting the wealthy and corporations — most notably, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's characterization of bonuses for workers as "crumbs" compared with the benefits that businesses receive under the new tax code. Republicans have seized on the comment as evidence that Democrats are out of touch with the working-class populism that has fueled Trump's popularity. "Do you think salary bonuses are crumbs?" Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado asked White House budget director Mick Mulvaney as he testified on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. "I think only a very wealthy person from San Francisco would think that was a crumb," Mulvaney replied in a dig at Pelosi.
Republicans and allied groups are starting to pummel vulnerable Senate Democrats with tough ads over their tax reform votes, noting that these "moderates" from red states sided with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to try to block an overhaul that is tangibly benefiting workers. Here are two new AFP spots going on air in Missouri and Indiana:
And the Senate Leadership Fund ad we wrote about recently is now running on television in West Virginia:
And then there's this:
Politico's new poll has Trump approval pulling even, the GOP *up* by a point on the generic Congressional ballot. It's an outlier, but the recent trend is pretty clear. pic.twitter.com/RgamwzgO5f— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) February 14, 2018
Lest conservatives start getting too comfortable, I'll just point out that Democrats think they've put Tennessee on the attainable Senate target map, based on recent polling. And while results aren't uniform (these outcomes in Minnesota aren't troubling at all for the GOP), Democrats' intensity edge is really showing up in quite a few state legislative races:
Democrat Margaret Good has won by about 8 points in a district that Trump won by 5 in 2016. It's the 36th legislative flip for Democrats since Trump's inauguration. https://t.co/VjxbfDIglf— Gideon Resnick (@GideonResnick) February 14, 2018
As I've been saying, Republicans can fight back and maintain a respectable position going into the fall...and still get wiped out because of heavy Democratic turnout.