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Analysis: The House blue wave is alive and well

Stuart Rothenberg, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON--For the last couple of months, I've heard from many quarters that the "blue wave" has dissipated. Meh.

Advocates of that view usually point to the RealClearPolitics generic ballot average or Donald Trump's job approval ratings, which suggest the president's popularity has risen and the Democratic House advantage fallen.

An April 16 Washington Post article was headlined "Poll: Democrats' advantage in midterm election support is shrinking."

The National Review went much further in a May 22 piece, hyping a laughable Reuters poll that found the GOP with an advantage in the generic ballot.

"The dramatic shift is bad news for Democrats, who were a full 10 points on the generic ballot as recently as the end of April. If the trend holds, their hopes of regaining control of Congress atop a blue wave in November could be dashed," the writer observed.

Vox had a bevy of journalists, academics and analysts warning in a June 7 story that the blue wave was in trouble.

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Less surprising is that the day after the June 5 primaries, the Republican National Committee sent out an e-mail cherry-picking media tweets and comments (even from media organizations not friendly to Trump) that suggested the California results demonstrated Democratic enthusiasm was exaggerated and the Democratic wave didn't exist.

In fact, there is an abundance of evidence that Democratic House prospects are as good as they have been for months and the House is still very likely to flip.

Often, a healthy dose of common sense is more useful than a single misleading public opinion survey. Less than two months ago, I wrote "It seems very unlikely that there has been a fundamental shift in sentiment (in the generic ballot) among registered voters," and "If I were you, I'd wait for the next round of generic ballot tests from the major pollsters before getting too excited about the most recent (Washington Post-ABC News) generic ballot result," which showed a dramatically narrower 4-point Democratic advantage.

Two months earlier, on Feb. 12, my column -- "The Generic is Falling! The Generic is Falling!" -- had expressed skepticism that things had changed much and estimated that "the generic ballot probably now sits in the mid-single digits, in the 5- to 8-point range," which I thought put the fall campaign on a trajectory toward Democratic control of the House.


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