James Carville called me early this morning to talk about the new ABC News/Washington Post poll, reported under the banner, “Poll: Democrats’ advantage on key issues is not translating to a midterm-election edge.”
The headline writers must have worked overtime to get to the interpretation that Democrats cannot translate the current mood into election gains.
This is probably the worst example yet of the official narrative requiring great contortions to get to the conclusion that this will be a Republican year.
Their whole interpretation of the 2014 midterms and trends is based on the U.S. Senate preference of about half the sampled respondents who will choose senators in this off year. They show the Democrats trailing by 8 points, but that is less interesting or surprising when you note — as Kyle Kondik did for Sabato’s Crystal Ball — that the Republican presidential candidates won these states by 7 points on average since 2000.
With that digression, the Washington Post minimized the following results:
Two-thirds of respondents said they will not re-elect their member of Congress — up 5 points in a month. And as we know, the majority of voters think Republicans are in control of the whole business.
On how issues will affect their vote, let’s start with the new health care law — the centerpiece of the GOP strategy. On the question of whether a candidate’s position on the Affordable Care Act would affect the vote of those surveyed, the Republicans have only a 2-point advantage (36 percent say they are less likely to vote for a member who supports the ACA, and 34 percent say they are more likely to vote for someone who supports the law). Just four months ago this same poll showed Republicans with a 16-point advantage on a slightly different ABC News/Washington Post question. Furthermore, by 44 to 36 percent, voters favor Democrats to handle health care in general.
By the way, if you want to see an issue that matters, check out their results on the minimum wage. That issue helps Democrats by 50 to 19 percent — respondents are a net 31 points more likely to vote for a candidate who supports raising the minimum wage.
The Republicans have lost ground in particular on handling the economy, budget deficits, and immigration. Would that be every issue getting public attention?
Their poll is most stunning on the question they ask about each of the players: Are they “in touch with the concerns of most people in the United States today or out of touch”? Nearly half, 48 percent, say both the president and the Democrats are in touch — an astonishing 20 points higher than the number saying that about the Republicans.
The pundits insist this is a Republican year. We doubt it.
Look at the Virginia gubernatorial election and the two state senate elections. And let’s see what happens in Florida on Tuesday.