This week, I gave the polling presentation for Civitas, the conservative advocacy organization. The poll should be a stark warning for Republicans. It’s not time for them to hit the panic button yet, but if the trends continue, they’re in deep trouble.
The most shocking number is the generic ballot question for legislative races. The poll asks, “If the election for state legislature in your area were held today, would you be voting for the Democrat, the Republican, neither or don’t know.” By a margin of 47% to 32%, respondents said they would choose the Democrat. That’s a fifteen point spread. To put those numbers into perspective, that’s the largest spread the poll has ever recorded. The last time it was even close to as wide was October 2010, when Republicans held a seven-point advantage just ahead of their wave election that gave them control of both chambers of the legislature. This poll could be an outlier but if this is the beginning of a trend, the GOP should be running for cover.
It’s hard to say definitively what’s causing the collapse in support, but a few notable trends seem to be good suspects. Donald Trump is underwater. Fifty-three percent of respondents view the president unfavorably, only 42% have a favorable opinion of him. Unless things change dramatically, Trump will dominate the news cycle, probably to the detriment of his fellow Republicans.
The other problem hanging over the GOP is their health care reform bill. Only 27% of voters think it will be better than Obamacare while 43% think if will make health care worse. And this poll was conducted before the CBO scoring came out this week indicating that the bill would strip health insurance away from 23 million Americans, including people with pre-existing conditions.
Voters may be feeling duped by the GOP. Donald Trump promised to repeal Obamacare on “day one” on his presidency and replace it with a program that would insure more people, provide better coverage, and lower premiums. It was a promise he and the Republicans can’t keep. Voters maybe having buyer’s remorse.
In other numbers, Governor Roy Cooper is still enjoying a honeymoon. Sixty-one percent of respondents approve of the job he’s doing while only 24% disapprove. Also, in a question that asks, “If you had to choose, which of the following do you think cares the MOST about you and people like you?” almost twice as many people chose Cooper than the state legislature. At some point, those numbers will probably shrink, but for the time being, Cooper’s still got a lot of political capital while the GOP legislators have very little.
This poll may be an outlier. Any polling organization that regularly tests voters gets a lousy sample every now and then. But if other polls show similar trends or the Civitas poll next month has numbers like these, Republicans should start to make serious adjustments.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >