Bad vibes: Abortion fight spurs Dems to three-point lead on generic ballot, says WSJ poll

Source: Hot Air

We already knew from the results of the Kansas referendum and the upset in NY-19 that there’s a Dobbs backlash afoot but in polling the backlash has been more a matter of inference. Democrats have closed the gap in the generic ballot and now lead slightly in the RCP average, a run of improvement that coincidentally began around the time Dobbs was decided in late June.

Today’s new Journal poll puts some meat on the bone in finding Democrats now up 47/44. That’s an eight-point swing from the pre-Dobbs era, as Republicans led 46/41 back in March. A lot has changed since — gas prices, for starters, plus an array of liberal legislation getting through Congress — but the two pollsters who conducted this one point squarely at abortion as driving the shift.

At 60%, those who say abortion should be legal in all or most cases represent a majority of voters, up 5 percentage points from March. More than half of voters say the Supreme Court’s elimination of the federal constitutional right to an abortion has made them more likely to vote.

In a separate question, voters cited the court ruling as the single issue most likely to make them vote this November, ahead of four other issues tested, including inflation, border security, gun violence and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home.

The court ruling was especially salient for white, suburban women, a group known for switching between the two parties in recent elections and who say they would back a Democratic candidate over a Republican, 52% to 40%.

Among independent voters, men are pretty much where they were. It’s women independents who have shifted left in the last few months, evidently by a lot. A 12-point Republican lead among independents in March is now a three-point deficit. Democrats, the ruling party, are somehow pulling that off despite 68 percent of voters agreeing that the country is on the wrong track.

I wonder how.

The bad vibes from the generic ballot polling lately now extend to forecasters:

A GOP takeover of the House is still likely but Wasserman noted elsewhere that if all 32 toss-up races were to split evenly this fall, that would mean a modest Republican pick-up of 16 seats. Which in turn would mean an uncomfortably narrow majority for Kevin McCarthy.

Republican candidates are doing what they can to maneuver on abortion, sometimes in slippery ways. I think Rich Lowry has the right long-term strategy in urging the GOP to pivot to bans after the first trimester, which are popular and would put Democrats on defense over their abortion-on-demand extremism. But that’s probably not going to happen before the midterms, and in the meantime Dems are being shrewd about trying to convert pro-choice anxieties into votes. Right now in Michigan they’re angling to get a referendum on the ballot in November that would legalize abortion until viability, nullifying the state’s 1931 abortion ban. A lot of younger voters who wouldn’t otherwise have bothered turning out for the election will turn out for that. And odds are that they’ll prefer Gretchen Whitmer to Tudor Dixon on the line where they vote for governor.

There’s another factor that might be helping Democrats gain ground lately that has nothing to do with abortion.

Top Republicans’ biggest private fear — that November’s midterms will turn on public opinion about former President Trump, not inflation and crime — is unfolding across the political landscape…

The Trump document case is likely to remain in the news for months.

I’m told there are lots more investigative threads to pull before an indictment — including interviewing Trump lawyers about what they said about the classified documents he kept.

The bottom line: GOP midterm candidates — who want to talk solely about the prices of gas and groceries — now must contend with background music that once again is Trump, Trump, Trump.

I’m skeptical that there’s a meaningful “Trump backlash” out there just because there’s so much else going on that’s influencing Americans’ decisions on how to vote. But the fact that Joe Biden asked for primetime TV airtime tonight to discourse on the threat from “MAGA Republicans” suggests Democrats see something in their own polling that points to this subject being a winner for them. Either that or they expect Trump to spend the next two months saying and doing things that will chase returning swing voters back out of the GOP and they’re trying to signal to those voters to pay closer attention to him as Election Day approaches.

How do we think swing voters will react to the leader of the GOP now all but promising to pardon the mobsters who smashed up the Capitol and nearly murdered Mike Pence in hopes of overturning the election for him?

How do we think they’ll feel about Trump having spent this past week tweeting repeatedly that it’s time to re-run the 2020 election, an idea so palpably insane that even MAGA politicians in Congress won’t back him up on it?

I doubt there are many voters out there who are furious about inflation but will nonetheless conclude that they simply can’t vote downballot for a party run by a madman. But there may be a few. Today’s Journal poll finds that Biden leads Trump 50/44 in a hypothetical 2024 match-up, an all but unthinkable result for a president whose job approval is in the mid-40s and whose first term was distinguished by an historic rise in prices. Sixty-eight percent say the country’s on the wrong track yet Biden’s already at 50 percent against the presumptive Republican nominee. The GOP would be suicidal to nominate him again. But they probably will, thinking that doing so will spite the libs. Imagine how spited those libs will feel when they get the most favorable possible match-up they could have hoped for.