Red sweep coming?

Empower Wisconsin | Oct. 12, 2022

Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner

Republicans are poised to take control of Congress, their fortunes rising in recent weeks as voters have seized on the inflation-wracked economy as the top issue.

Typically trailing Democrats in polls of the so-called “generic congressional ballot” even in years when they do well, Republicans in the past week have surged to a 4-percentage-point advantage in the latest Rasmussen Reports survey.

“If the elections for Congress were held today, 47% of likely U.S. voters would vote for the Republican candidate, while 43% would vote for the Democrat,” said Rasmussen.

“The GOP lead is up three points from last week, when they led 45% to 44%,” read the survey analysis.

The “generic ballot” is one of the key numbers followed by Washington political insiders, but it is often misunderstood because it is not an exact predictor of the vote.

Typically, Democrats lead the generic ballot, even in years when they lose. That is because no matter what pollsters do to compensate, it leans heavily toward Democrats.

As a result, many pollsters and political experts estimate that even if the Republicans are behind by up to 3 points, the GOP will win House and Senate seats.

Longtime Republican pollster Ed Goeas recently explained the history while discussing the latest Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service Battleground Civility Poll.

“First of all, one thing we have known for years in terms of generic ballot, in fact, it’s always kind of an inside joke, is that the generic ballot is skewed towards the Democrats,” he said.

“Because there are many minority districts, there are many Democratic districts that are very Democrat — inner cities, particularly, that are 80% Democrat on the generic ballot,” Goeas said.

But, Goeas added, there are few heavily GOP generic districts to offer balance.

“There’s no 70% generic districts in the country,” he said.

“Now one of the things we’ve always noticed is if the generic ballot is within 5 points, usually that means we pick up some seats,” he said, adding, “What we have known on the generic ballot, and this has held year after year after year, if it’s a generic balance within 3 points, it usually means we’re winning enough districts that we take control of Congress.”

That suggests a massive lead for the GOP in the Rasmussen survey.

In their analysis, Rasmussen cited recent elections to explain that the final vote is closer to the generic margin, which suggests a significant GOP win in November if the gap persists.

“In October 2018, before voters handed Democrats their first House majority in eight years, Democrats held a five-point advantage (47% to 42%) in the generic ballot question. As the November 2018 midterms neared, the margin was a statistical dead heat — Republicans 46%, Democrats 45% — in the final poll before Democrats won a slim House majority while Republicans gained Senate seats to maintain control of that chamber,” said Rasmussen.

Read more at the Washington Examiner.

Paul Bedard is Washington Secrets columnist.

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