Polls Show Conflicting Trend Lines

Steve Singiser of Daily Kos points out something interesting. While the Democrats have been doing worse lately on generic preference polls (e.g., “Do you prefer a Republican or Democratic House/Senate?”), many of the most hotly contested Senate races have been moving modestly in their direction.

AK-Sen: Last five avg—Begich +0.8; Previous five avg—Begich +0.4
AR-Sen: Last five avg—Cotton +1.6; Previous five avg—Cotton +0.2
CO-Sen: Last five avg—Udall +2.8; Previous five avg—Udall +0.6
IA-Sen: Last five avg—Braley +1.0; Previous five avg—Braley +0.8
LA-Sen: Last five avg—Landrieu +0.2; Previous five avg—Cassidy +1.0
MI-Sen: Last five avg—Peters +5.0; Previous five avg—Peters +4.0
NC-Sen: Last five avg—Hagan +2.2; Previous five avg—Hagan +1.2

It’s hard to be certain what explains these contradictory trends. A shift from registered voter polls to likely voter polls should shift races in the Republicans’ direction, but that doesn’t seem to be happening in the polls of actual races, which could mask even greater recent gains for Team Blue. One possibility is that the DSCC and the individual candidates are doing a great job, while areas of the country without competitive Senate races are seeing the Dems slip. In this scenario, the generic polls really have little bearing on the Senate races.

I don’t know the answers but I will say that the recent dump of YouGov polls is shockingly negative for the Democrats and includes many outliers that are driving down the polling averages for Democratic candidates. I’d like to see someone take a crack at explaining the methodology that is producing those results.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com