by Rod D. Martin
October 12, 2018
SENATE AND HOUSE UPDATE: It’s been a heck of a week since the Kavanaugh confirmation, in which the belief that the left’s assault on due process — not to mention on the Kavanaugh family, and by implication, the family of anyone the left decides it doesn’t like — might backfire has indeed borne out.
We start with the President, who after all is supposedly the centerpiece of all that is wrong with the world, particularly from a #MeToo perspective. Donald Trump’s approval rating hit 51% for most of the last week, starting immediately before Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Today it settled back to 49%, but these are among the highest numbers of his Presidency, and are quite a lot higher than Barack Obama at the same time in 2010.
(Yes, those are Rasmussen numbers, which have consistently been the most accurate public numbers aside from Trafalgar Group; however, it’s worth noting that while many of the predictably-leftist polls are lower, in fact, there are several who aren’t by much, including YouGov with Trump at 45%, and SurveyMonkey with Trump at 48%. Those are polls of Registered Voters, not Likely Voters, which suggests that they might have Trump higher than does Rasmussen if they ran decent polls.)
Likewise, a majority say Kavanaugh should have been confirmed (up a lot from before the scandal), vs. just 42% who say otherwise (roughly the same as before the scandal). As I’ve told you previously, Independents think the Democrats blew it on Kavanaugh by a whopping 28-point margin. What’s more, 51% of Republicans say they are fired up to go vote because of Kavanaugh, in an off-year election where turnout would normally be around 30%. That doesn’t bode well for the Democrats this November.
On the House side, as I’ve told you for a year, the real danger — and the entire basis for the #BlueWave narrative — is the enthusiasm gap between Democrats (excited) and Republicans (complacent). But as NPR and Fox reported separately last week (and as I told you then), post-Kavanaugh, that gap has “evaporated” (NPR’s word). That changes things quite a lot, or at least it does on the ground: it doesn’t necessarily change the pollsters’ “Likely Voter” models, especially if they want a particular (read: Blue) outcome.
So yesterday, Rasmussen’s generic ballot shows a tie. Remember, historically at least, Republicans win the House at D+5 or better, so D+0 is seriously good. Will it hold? I don’t know. But last week, Rasmussen had it D+5, and that’s a lot of points to move in a single week.
Others clearly disagree. As of yesterday, YouGov has it D+6, for instance. But those are Registered Voters, not Likely Voters (RV’s almost always slant toward the Democrats), and even if that’s right, Nate Silver can tell you as well or better than I can that D+6 would likely mean we lose seats without losing the majority. Likewise, Harris (also RVs) has it D+6, and generally speaking, I’d say that if RVs are D+6, LV’s are probably about D+3: #WeWin.
Interestingly, Harris had it D+8 a week ago, before Kavanaugh was actually confirmed. Likewise, Ipsos and CNN had it D+13, which seems a bit like ABC’s claim two weeks before Nov. 8, 2016 that Trump was down by 12. It might be true, but it doesn’t sound right. It’s also now a full (and consequential) week out of date.
So when you consider all of this, and factor in that we are ahead in races like FL-27 where we’re supposed to be losing badly, I remain optimistic about the House. Could we lose it? Absolutely. But the #BlueWave narrative seems more like wishful thinking and/or propaganda than what we’re actually seeing on the ground. And that seems to be intensifying as we go along, not weakening. If I were predicting (and I am not yet), I’d guess we lose about 12 seats, not 33. And that would mean we’d keep the majority.
I can’t stress enough that good Senate outcomes will buoy a decent number of our House candidates, a point made very well today by Harry Enten over at CNN Politics (though it’s buried at the bottom of the story, and under a pro-Dem headline). So the Senate races matter for more than just the Senate themselves.
So what about the Senate?
On that front, the Kavanaugh Effect has been remarkable. Let’s go state by state.
In Tennessee, where Marsha Blackburn was down 18 points early in the year, she’s now surging post-Kavanaugh: up an incredible 54-40 (yes, 14 points) in the Sienna College/NYT poll, and 50-42 two days earlier (or 8 points) in YouGov. Four days before that, Fox had her up by 6.
Before the “scandal”, she was dead even or a bit down.
In North Dakota, most pollsters have actually pulled out, having given up on any chance of Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) keeping her seat. Heitkamp was endangered before the “scandal”, but after it, she absolutely cratered: most recent polling has her down 12 points, 53-41.
That’s one seat we were supposed to lose, and one we weren’t supposed to pick up.
In Texas, for all the talk of Ted Cruz’s demise (much of it from the Cruz campaign, which is behind in fundraising), Quinnipiac has him steady at 54-45: 9 points up, not within the margin of error, not below 50%. The New York Times has it 51-43. Neither poll is friendly to us. The polls you’re seeing that have Beto up are junk (but give Ted money anyway: the bigger the loss, the more shattered the Democrats, and Beto O’Rourke’s future races, will be).
In Arizona, likewise, McSally has surged, down by 3 to 6 points pre-Kavanaugh, now up by 6 points in one poll and dead even in another. We’ll see which of those is right, and if either holds up, but the trend is certainly right.
Even in Nevada, where most of us assumed Dean Heller (R-NV) was probably toast (even though I held out hope), we’re actually doing pretty well. Ipsos has it a 1-point race today. NYT has Heller up by 2, Marist has Heller up by 1. For contrast, CNN had Heller losing by 4 (outside the margin of error) a few days before Kavanaugh’s confirmation. It’s not a lot of movement, and Trump should probably do another rally in Las Vegas. But if we hold Tennessee, Texas, Arizona and Nevada, that means we’ll have lost — wait for it — zero seats.
Did you hear that? We may not lose a single Senate seat. North Dakota gives us a path to coming out even, even if we lose one, and potentially to hit 52-48 if we hold all of them.
But that’s just the warm-up.
In Florida, Rick Scott has regained the lead in two polls, one of which is so slanted toward the Democrats it’s hard to express and yet still has him up by 2. (In the Governor’s race, our wonderful Representative Ron DeSantis is still down to Socialist Andrew Gillum, but within the margin of error, in several polls). This should be a pickup.
In Indiana, Mike Braun was down to Democrat incumbent Joe Donnelly a week ago. Now he’s even, in an Ipsos poll that’s skewed against us.
In Missouri, McLaughlin has Josh Hawley up by 8 points, but a couple of newer polls have him up by 1 or 2. I don’t have a lot of respect for either of those polls, but since part of the reason for that is their tendency to weight against us, I’ll take it.
In Montana, there’s no new public polling to report; but inside sources say the trend has been similar there to the other states mentioned. Tester was up by about 4 points going into Kavanaugh week: that would suggest he should be down now, though within the margin of error. We’ll see (and the President should go back to Big Sky Country asap).
Finally, in West Virginia — where Joe Manchin hoped to save himself by voting for Brett Kavanaugh — the opposite may be happening. On October 3, Global Strategies Group had this a 12-point race (in Manchin’s favor), consistent with Emerson College on Sept. 17. Just before the Kavanaugh vote, the Terrance Group had it down to a 4-point race, presumably reflecting concerns in West Virginia that Manchin might not vote right. I think most assumed this would perk back up once he did in fact vote for Kavanaugh.
But now? Public Opinion Strategies has a new poll out with Manchin in a dead heat, ahead of Republican Patrick Morrisey by just 1-point, 41-40. And the most important number there is the 40: Joe Manchin is an incumbent who’s ten whole points below “safe”. And the undecideds will most likely break toward the challenger.
Bottom line: while many of these races remain toss-ups, Republicans have a very strong chance of holding their current seats, and picking up as many as SIX seats currently held by the Democrats. That would be 57-43, vs. 51-49 today (and vs. the Republican’s modern historical high of 55). And even if we spot the Dems Indiana, Montana, Nevada AND Arizona, the Pubs could still end up at 53-47, with a vastly improved quality of Senators on their own side (no more Corker, Flake or McCain).
This is simply incredible. But more to the point, this argues rather strongly against the #BlueWave narrative. And it does more than that: if these Senate seats do go our way, in whole or in part, it will be because of energized Republican voters turning out to stop that #BlueWave, who will in turn shore up a lot of House seats which might otherwise have been lost.
A lot can change in the next few weeks. But this is where we are today. And like two years ago, it’s not at all the dreck you’re being force-fed by the Enemedia.
Now go walk a precinct, give to some candidates, and take friends to vote. No kidding: this means you.
One sad, though not entirely unexpected, note: it looks like Bob Menendez is pulling back into a comfortable lead in New Jersey. I didn’t really think the state was likely to stay in play, but it was important to make you aware of the possibility, and it was nice while it lasted. We’ll watch for any new developments.
— Senate and House Update, Oct. 12, 2018: The Kavanaugh Surge Continues originally appeared as a Facebook post by Rod D. Martin.