Quick Thoughts: Democrats Lead Big in Recent Generic Ballot Polls

A few posts ago, I delved into the generic ballot, and I gave a few suggestions. Two of them were:

  1. Don’t be surprised if the Democrats’ lead shrinks
  2. Check polling averages, not just one survey (so, don’t make a big deal out of one outlier poll)

Well, what would you know? Not only has that first thing not happened yet, but the opposite came true. I first noticed this last week, when a new poll released by Reuters/Ipsos had Democrats up +14. I wanted to write a blog post then and there, but I kept in mind the second piece of advice. A few days later, two more polls — from ABC/Washington Post and Emerson College — came out with similar top lines.  And here we are.


Looking at the dates behind these polls provides some insight into the shifts. After all, they were all conducted in the aftermath of August 22nd’s trials of Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen. Both events were expected to weigh poorly on President Trump and the Republican Party, and that appears to be happening.

I’ll keep this short: there’s no way to tell if these changes will have a lasting effect on the generic ballot.

For now, the signs overwhelmingly point to a “no.” An Economist/YouGov poll conducted during the same period had a more modest lead for Democrats, D+6, which is a lot more in-line with what we’ve been seeing. Additionally, the election is still 63 days away; in politics time, that’s an eternity for new talking points to develop.

Conventional wisdom leads me to expect some mean reversion (boy, do I love that phrase). My love for drama hopes otherwise.

As with most horse races, we’ll just have to wait and see.


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