A Poll Reversal – The New York Times

In the final days leading up to Tuesday’s midterm elections, the polls reached an increasingly high consensus on the state of the race: Republicans led.

Most pollsters over the past few weeks have found that Republicans are leading modestly but consistently when they ask voters whether they will back Democrats or Republicans for Congress.

The result is a reversal from polls conducted just over a month ago, when Democrats appeared to have the upper hand.

If recent polls are right – and maybe not – Republicans will almost certainly take over the House. The big question on election night will be whether and where the individual Democratic candidate can withstand the hostile political environment. Control of the Senate would depend on it.

In a sense, the new strength of the Republican Party is foreseeable. The president’s party is almost always defeated in midterm elections, especially when his approval rating is as low as that of President Biden, hovering just over 40%. In an age of modern voting dating back almost a century, there is no precedent for allowing the president’s party to take power in the House of Representatives when his approval rating is lower than 50%.

But for Democrats, the usual midterm losses for the party in the White House – or even a better-than-normal outcome – could still be something of a disappointment. Democrats seem to be in a pretty strong position as they were a few weeks ago. They gained support over the summer after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and amid growing concern about American democracy and gun violence. Some news also helped the party politically: falling gas prices and Biden’s surprising legislative success.

But the Democratic summer wave quickly dissipated. The focus on guns, abortion, and threats to democracy has give way to new inflation concerns, falling stock markets, and campaign debate often centered on other issues, like crime. In just a few weeks, an even larger Republican lead replaced the Democrats. The once-clear advantage of the Democrats in key Senate races has disappeared, leaving control of the Senate in disarray.

In a typical midterm election, Republicans can be expected to wipe out many of the closest races. They might even make a splash in some trusted Democratic counties or states. There are signs this year of next year: Democrats have raced to defend solid blue seats in New York, Rhode Island, California and Oregon.

Democrats still show important signs of resilience. The party appears to be highly competitive in key Senate races, such as Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada and Arizona. In these states, Republicans have nominated relatively weak candidates who can underperform, even in a favorable national political climate. And there are other bright spots for Democratic candidates in states like Michigan and Kansas, where abortion remains on voters’ minds.

However, Biden’s history and low approval ratings could ultimately erase even this little bit of Democratic optimism. The Democrats’ hopes can also be vain – the product of vote in stylewhich often happens in many of the same battlefield states.

But it’s also possible that Democrats can still play to some of their summer strengths in these states: A Republican candidate is someone who refuses to vote or has an abortion initiative on the ballot. There may be enough Democratic voters to keep the party’s candidates competitive or even to push them to win.

With just four days to go before polls close, there isn’t much time left for surveys to answer these questions. As always, voters will have the final say.




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