It's still brutal out there for President Biden, according to the latest tranche of public polling, some of which Rebecca covered yesterday. The Real Clear Politics average shows Biden's approval rating hovering around 40 percent, but a handful of national surveys released in recent days peg the number the 30's. There's the Harris/Harvard poll in which more people strongly disapprove (39 percent out of 55 percent overall) than approve (38 percent). Next up are the "rock bottom" Marist/NPR/PBS numbers, showing Biden at 39 percent approval. This pollster asked Americans about Biden's first year in office, and a substantial majority (56/39) deeming it a failure versus a success. Among independent voters, the breakdown was ever uglier (66/28). Then there's the eyebrow-raising ABC News/Washington Post data set:
Once again, strong disapproval outpaces total approval, in this case by seven points. Biden is 18 points underwater overall. One of the most important and predictive political metrics ahead of a midterm election cycle like this one is the president's rating. Biden's is in the toilet. Unsurprisingly, his party is staring at some horrendous generic ballot numbers, too:
JUST IN: Republican congressional candidates have a 49-42% advantage over Democrats among registered voters, widening to 54-41% among those who say they both are registered and certain to vote in November, new @ABC News/WaPo poll finds. https://t.co/iPBivNr8T1 pic.twitter.com/TvpbtEJ9Rn— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 27, 2022
A seven-point lead among registered voters, which balloons to 13 points among the likeliest voters. This effect speaks to a phenomenon that CNN's Harry Enten warned the network's heavily-Democratic audience about earlier this month. In the current environment, likely voter screens will very likely favor the GOP:
Most polls you're looking at right now are likely underestimating Republicans' position heading into the midterm election cycle. It's not that the polls are "wrong." Rather, it's that most polls at this point are asking all registered voters who they're going to vote for in November, when it's likely only a distinct subset of voters who will cast a ballot. The voters who will actually turn out for the fall election are likely going to be disproportionately Republican based on current polling data and history...Dig into the [recent CNN] poll a little more, and you can see where Democrats' problem lies, though. Our CNN poll asked respondents how enthusiastic they were about voting in this year's election "extremely, very, somewhat, not too or not enthusiastic at all." Among those who said they were extremely enthusiastic (24%), Republicans held a 59% to 39% lead over Democrats on the generic congressional ballot. If we expand our universe to include those who were very enthusiastic as well (43% of all voters) of all voters, Republicans were ahead 55% to 42%. No matter how you measure enthusiasm, the voters who are most enthusiastic about voting this year lean Republican. A similar signal was seen in an NBC News poll last month in which Republicans registered far more interest in the upcoming midterms than Democrats, so this poll is no outlier.
This is why enthusiasm and intensity gaps matter. A very motivated Republican electorate, coupled with a lukewarm or demoralized Democratic electorate -- especially as independents slide red -- is very dangerous territory for the party in power. As you can see above, at this stage in famous 2010 red wave cycle, the GOP's registered voters lead was three points. They picked up 63 House seats that year. In 2014, another huge Republican year, the party was actually trailing the Democrats by one point at this point in the ABC/WaPo series. They ended up winning a total 247 House seats that fall, gaining nine Senate seats to retake that majority, too. Now compare the new survey results with those two banner GOP years. It's looking markedly worse for Democrats this time around. No wonder a longtime senior advisor to Sen. Mitch McConnell is calling the latest ABC/WaPo data "new territory." All the usual provisos and disclaimers apply -- we are still more than eight months out from the election, things change, etc. -- but on the current trajectory, the Democratic House majority is gone in a major way, and Senate Democrats are on pace to lose five net seats:
Seems like a good time to plug @SeanTrende's look at what it means--his simple, JA-driven Senate model is more useful than any race-by-race handicapping at this point. https://t.co/PhsHeTAUHb pic.twitter.com/2vPXoJduYj— Liam Donovan (@LPDonovan) February 27, 2022
At this point in generic ballot polling, Democrats are basically praying that the YouGov and POLITICO/Morning Consult Online Panels are right and… every other pollster of all kinds else is wrong pic.twitter.com/t7WhDawIjv— Logan Dobson (@LoganDobson) February 27, 2022
Speaking of desperation-fueled prayers, Karl Rove recently argued that Democrats had better start seeking divine intervention on their behalf, given all the trends and dynamics at present. Sure, Democrats can hope that the outlier numbers are closer to reality, but actions and results speak louder than polls. I'll leave you with a reminder of Democrats' actions:
Writing, meet wall.