Dems’ Lead on the Generic Ballot Won’t Last. Here’s Why.

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Democrats are no doubt breathing a sigh of relief today as they’ve overtaken Republicans in the RealClearPolitics average for the 2022 generic ballot.

It’s a modest edge of 0.2 points and is based on a series of recent polls showing Republicans with as high as a 5-point lead (Trafalgar) and Democrats with as much as a 6-point lead (YouGov). In fact, a look at recent polling shows results all over the map. This makes it hard not to wonder whether polling is complete garbage.

For what it’s worth, the most recent forecasts from FiveThirtyEight favor Democrats to keep the Senate but still predict Republicans to win back the House. It’s arguably likely that generic ballot polling will reflect more on the Senate races than House races, but it’s hard not to be concerned if you’re a Republican who was counting on a red wave in November.

Many say that the Democrats’ fortunes changed because of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and perhaps there’s some truth to that. But if Dobbs was the primary catalyst for the shift in polling, it stands to reason that the Mar-a-Lago raid will have a similar motivational effect on Republican voters, who are incredibly angry at the gross abuse of power by the Biden administration.

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According to a new poll from the Convention of States Action and Trafalgar group, 83.3% of Republicans and 55.2% of Democrats said the FBI raid on President Trump’s home increased their motivation to vote in the 2022 midterms. To put it another way, nearly 30% more Republicans than Democrats reported being more likely to vote in November.

Let’s put this in perspective. In June, a CBS News/YouGov poll found that 50% of Democrats were more likely to vote in November because of Dobbs, while only 20% of Republicans were more motivated — a 30-point gap. A Marist/NPR/PBS poll found a comparable gap of 24 points favoring Democrats.

Here’s where things get interesting. More people reported being motivated to vote in November by the FBI raid on Trump’s house than by abortion. Only 33% of voters reported being more motivated to vote in November because of the Dobbs ruling in the CBS News/YouGov poll and 61% in the Marist/NPR/PBS poll. That’s a large discrepancy between the two polls for sure, but both are smaller numbers than the 70.4% of voters who reported being more motivated to vote in November because of the raid.

In other words, the impact of the raid on voting in November will be larger than the impact of the Dobbs ruling.

“This FBI thing is off the charts,” said Mark Meckler, president of the Convention of States Action. “I can just tell you that from dealing with grassroots all over the country, people are freaking out. And by that I mean, they’re going to vote, they’re going to drag everybody they know to the polls.”

Meckler added that “a lot of people who weren’t that enthused don’t like the police-state stuff and they’re going to come out and vote, too.”

So, with that in mind, when can we expect polling to show the impact of the raid? Well, when the Dobbs decision was announced, Republicans had a +3.4-point edge in the RealClearPolitics average in the generic ballot. That edge went down slightly afterward, but the gap didn’t start to close until nearly a month after the ruling. I suspect we’ll see a similar lag in polling results post-raid.

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