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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Shutdown and Midterm Doom

The shutdown/debt battle is bad for the GOP, but unless a debt crisis triggers an economic disaster, it does not spell doom for the party in the 2014 midterm. John Sides notes that President Obama is paying a price:
First, it isn’t like the public approves of his handling of the budget negotiations either — in the new Post/ABC poll 53 percent disapprove, a slight but not statistically significant increase from two weeks ago. Second, Gallup’s tracking polls suggest that his overall approval rating has declined. Rasmussen finds the same thing. (And don’t start in about Gallup’s accuracy in the presidential election; there is nothing wrong with their presidential approval numbers.) I am the last person to put much stock in a single poll. But we have two polls showing the same trend — on top of a third warning sign: perhaps the best predictor of presidential approval, evaluations of the economy, are in freefall. I am happy to state that we need more polling to identify whether there is any trend in presidential approval. But all of these pieces of data deserve more attention than they are getting.
And the landscape does not look terrible for the GOP, at least for now:
Democratic candidate recruitment has not gone so well that election handicappers give them an edge in many swing districts. Nate Cohn summarizes this nicely. And while the shift in the generic ballot is certainly good news for Democrats, political scientists Joseph Bafumi, Robert Erikson, and Christopher Wlezien have shown that during the election year the generic ballot tends to trend in the opposite direction as the president’s party. This suggests that Democrats will lose ground in generic ballot polling during 2014. So what we’re left with is the potential for either party to make small gains, but less potential for either party to make major gains. Certainly I cannot confidently predict that the Democrats will gain the majority.