Democrats set for 'wave' of victories in 2018 elections, top nonpartisan pollster predicts

'If I were a Republican running for Congress, I’d be taking that more seriously than ever'

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Friday 17 November 2017 16:39
Ms Walter believes the Democrats could take control of the House and the Senate
Ms Walter believes the Democrats could take control of the House and the Senate

One of America’s most highly respected, nonpartisan political analysts has predicted the Democrats will enjoy a “wave” of victories in the 2018 midterm elections.

With Donald Trump’s approval rating at an all time low and with Republicans failing to deliver on a series of promised pieces of legislation, Amy Walter believes 2018 could see a repeat of what happened in the midterms of 2006, when Democrats seized control of both the House and Senate during the second term of George W Bush.

“The last two weeks have seen some significant movement in Democrats favour. First, there were the impressive results from last Tuesday's elections,” Ms Walter writes, in an analysis for the Cook Political Report.

“This week, we’ve seen two polls - one by Quinnipiac and one by Marist - that show Democrats with a congressional ballot advantage of +13 to +15. Three other recent polls - ABC/Washington Post, Fox, and NBC/Wall Street Journal - show Democrats with an advantage of anywhere from +7 to +15.”

Ms Cook said she had actually been wrong in 2006 and predicted that Mr Bush and the Republicans were in a better shape to withstand the kind of midterm backlash that many administrations encounter.

“Lots has changed over the course of those years - the rise of SuperPACs, digital targeting, data analytics. But, there has been one important, overarching constant: a candidate can control for many things, but he/she can’t change the political mood,” added Ms Walter.

“If it is with you, you get an extra advantage you may or may not deserve. When it is against you, even the best, most prepared candidates can lose. This was true in 1994. It was true in 2006. It was true in 2010.”

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She said that passing a tax bill appeared unlikely to change the mood of the country and that it will require something much more significant.

“A good economy is helpful to the Republicans as it can cut down on some of the headwinds coming at them right now. But, it’s not clear to me that it’s enough to fundamentally alter the way voters see Congress, the Republicans and the President,” she said.

She added: “Do not ignore what’s right in front of us. A wave is building. If I were a Republican running for Congress, I’d be taking that more seriously than ever.”

Ms Walter's analysis follows impressive wins by Democrats in gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia. The results have left other Republican governors fearing for their future and wondering how to counter the Democratic surge.

“What is driving the turnout? Is it a specific issue? Is it a specific region? Is it a specific type of voter? What impact of Washington,” Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker asked at a Republican meeting.

A poll released at the beginning of November showed Democrats hold an 11-point lead over Republicans on a generic House ballot.

The Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 51 per cent of registered voters said they would vote for the Democrat in their district, while 40 per cent said they would vote for the Republican.

The analysis comes as a new survey showed Mr Trump’s approval rating reached a new low in November and has declined for the last three months, according to the latest Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll.

It showed 41 per cent approved of the job Mr Trump is doing, compared to 59 per cent who disapproved. That was down from a 45 per cent approval in September.

Other polls have put Mr Trump’s approval rating much lower.

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