In a troubling sign for Republicans less than two months before November’s elections, Democrats’ advantage on the question of which party Americans are more likely to vote for in November is ballooning, according to a new NPR/Marist poll.
The gap has widened to 12 percentage points, up from 7 in July — and it is largely because of voters in the Midwest. They have swung 13 points in Democrats’ direction since July.
Drilling down a bit deeper into those changes, here is what they found:
The GOP’s and the president’s weaknesses continue to be in the suburbs and now with Midwestern voters. They retain advantages in rural areas, the South and with white, non-college-educated voters and white evangelicals. But even in rural areas and small towns, there has been some slippage from July.
“It’s not that Democrats are going to carry rural America,” Miringoff stressed, “but [Republicans are] not performing the way the president needs them to.”
In small towns, for example, there was an 11-point swing toward Democrats, and there was a 6-point drop-off among rural voters on the congressional ballot.
As we know, the president’s job approval numbers have been dropping. But what these kinds of numbers on the generic ballot demonstrate is that his performance is affecting support for congressional Republicans.
Trump has waged trade wars with several countries, aiming to renegotiate deals and has instituted tariffs on imports that have been met with retaliatory tariffs on exports. Many of those have taken a toll on Midwestern farmers, for example. And some automakers have come out against Trump’s moves on car imports, hitting Trump with some tough headlines.
And that appears to be sticking to the GOP now.
“Republicans have not only been fairly silent in opposition to the president,” Miringoff said, “but they’ve been driving very hard in the Senate when it comes to his Supreme Court nominee. Congressional Republicans are buying into Trump for November. In terms of brand, they look totally in lockstep with the president — and that has become extremely clear to voters.”
As we saw in several primaries, Republicans who weren’t strong enough in their support for Trump lost their party’s endorsement. That kind of extremism could hurt them in the general election. At least one incumbent Republican from the midwest, Ohio’s Dave Joyce, is attempting to limit the damage with an ad he’s running on cable television. Interestingly enough, in a district Trump won by 12 points, the ad doesn’t show up on his web site or YouTube channel.
Based on the numbers from this latest NPR/Marist poll, the dilemma facing Dave Joyce is going to show up in districts all across the midwest. It will be interesting to watch how other candidates react.