A Monmouth University poll released Wednesday shows Democrats with only a “negligible edge” over Republicans for November’s Congressional elections.
The poll, conducted over three days almost entirely before President Donald Trump’s well-received State of the Union Address, shows 47 percent of respondents saying they would vote for a generic congressional Democrat compared to 45 percent for a generic Republican, well within the poll’s 3.5 percent margin of error. This figure is a massive shift from earlier polls showing double digit Democratic leads and fueling pundits’ talk of a “blue wave” that could sweep Republicans from power.
The same polling agency, the Monmouth University Polling Institute (MUPI), found a 15 point generic Democratic advantage using the same question only last month.
Patrick Murray, MUPI’s director, gave some context, noting generic polls’ volitility, but he confirmed that the figures, coupled with the same poll’s finding of growing support for the tax cut the GOP passed with no Democratic support, spells trouble for proponents of the “blue wave” theory. “The generic Congressional ballot is prone to bouncing around for a bit until the campaign really gets underway later this year. But Democrats who counted on riding public hostility toward the tax bill to retake the House may have to rethink that strategy,” he said.
The poll also showed a dramatic increase, from 24 to 37 percent, of respondents who think America is heading in the “right direction,” in the last month. Approval of President Trump’s job performance also improved, matching Monmouth’s estimate from last August at 42 percent, while respondents who thought Trump needed to be impeached or compelled to leave office dropped three percent from July 2017 to 38 percent.
Democratic overperformance in special elections, the loss of promising candidates, and a wave of retirements among congressional Republicans in the last few months has played into a narrative of a growing Democratic wave election come November. Wednesday’s Monmouth poll, however, follows a series of dramatically narrowing numbers for 2018 over the last two weeks. It is the clearest indication yet that the “blue wave” is not a foregone conclusion.