One of the best measures of partisanship advantage going into an election is the so-called generic congressional ballot question. The public being polled is asked whether they would vote for the Republican or Democratic candidate for Congress. No names are attached to the question.
At the end of April, Republicans led on the question by 4.8% according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls. On September 22nd, the first day of Fall, RCP had Democrats with a 1.3% gain. In just three weeks since then, the Republicans have move to a 1.6% lead.
Looking at particular matchups, Republicans are doing better in Wisconsin. Senator Ron Johnson, who is the most unpopular incumbent Republican Senator seeking re-election, has polled ahead of his Democratic rival Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes in the 7 of the last 8 polls conducted in that state. (The 8th one showed the races as tied.) This is in contrast to polls in the summer almost all of which had Barnes ahead. When a post-mortem is done on the 2022 mid-terms, there is going to be a lot of discussion of how Republicans lost winnable Senate races due to former President Donald Trump foisting on the GOP weak candidates who are out-of-step with their states' voters. But let's not forget how the Democrats have likely blown the easy pick up of a Republican seat in Wisconsin by nominating a Bernie Sanders-endorsed, Defund the Police candidate.
There is also good news for Ohio in that J.D. Vance continues to maintain a small lead and Republican "Dr." Mehmet Oz has cut his opponent Lt Gov. John Fetterman's lead to just 3.4%. In the middle of August, Fetterman's lead was 8.7%.
What is going on? My guess is the economy, and in particular inflation, is hurting the Democrats more as the election gets closer.. Also, the Republicans are skillfully using the crime issue to hurt Democrats in individual races. Democrats have tried to counter inflation and crime with abortion. However, while that's an important issue that motivates the Democratic base voters to go to the polls, using abortion to get independent and Republicans to vote for Democratic candidates has always proven to be problematic.
There is a bit of good news for Democrats out of all places...Iowa. Incumbent Senator Chuck Grassley's lead is down to 3% in a poll conducted by Selzer & Co. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co, is considered one of the most accurate pollsters in the country. I have long been saying that Iowa could be close. Grassley is 89 years old seeking an 8th Senate term. He is running against a centrist-appearing Democrat, Mike Franken, who rose to the position of Admiral during his decades in the military. Yet, it seems no professional political pundit in the country believes Iowa is even remotely competitive. For example, Five Thirty Eight says Franken has only a 1% chance of winning.
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