Polling this far out from the mid-term elections in November 2018 is just guesswork.

But a Washington Post – ABC News poll has Democrats worried, because while it shows voters in general want a change in control of Congress, it also shows that Republicans in general, and Trump supporters particularly, are much more motivated to vote.

Aaron Blake at The Fix (WaPo) writes, This poll should be a warning sign for Democrats:

History suggests the 2018 election will almost surely be a bad one for Republicans. Midterms are generally considered a referendum on the president, and the results are almost always bad for said president. Layer on the fact that President Trump is the most unpopular new president in the modern era, and it would seem to be — at least at this early juncture — a clear recipe for a Democratic wave.

The key word there being “seem.”

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll, as Mike DeBonis and Emily Guskin report, presents a pretty mixed bag for Democrats. It shows that registered voters say they want Democrats to control Congress to be a check on Trump by a 52-38 percent margin, but it also shows Democrats are — rather remarkably — less enthusiastic about voting than Republicans are. While 65 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning adults say they are “almost certain to vote,” just 57 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning adults say the same.


The other significant finding, and related to the lack of Democrat motivation, is that Trump unpopularity is not a motivating factor for Democrats. ABC News reports:

Despite Trump’s historically low approval rating, opposition to him does not produce appreciably more 2018 voting intention than support for him does, the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll found. That’s a challenge for Democrats because their supporters’ midterm turnout typically is low….

Moreover, 51 percent of polled registered voters say Trump won’t be a factor in their votes for Congress. The rest split closely between saying they’d vote to support Trump (20 percent) or to oppose him (24 percent) — a nonsignificant gap.

The division is narrower than in the past, further indicating no outsize impact of Trump’s unpopularity at this point. Before the 2014 midterms, surveyed registered voters said they’d cast their vote to oppose rather than support Barack Obama by a 10-point margin, and the gap against George W. Bush was 14 points in November 2006, compared with the scant 4-point difference today.

Sure, this is just one poll and the 2018 elections are far away. But it does demonstrate a number of things which make sense.

First, Trump voters will be critical to Republican success in 2018. Oddly, the dysfunction of and disappointment in congressional Republicans may motivate Trump voters even more to give Trump greater majorities in Congress.

Second, national polling as to popularity or generic congressional preference may not reflect congressional success to the extent it might have in the past in light of this motivation gap. We recently highlighted polling showing Trump’s approval at 50% in the counties that went for him in 2016.

Third, being anti-Trump may not be enough for Democrats, who are a leaderless party. There is a sizable portion of the Democrat base who hate the people who run the Party, who feel Bernie was cheated, and who may not show up. As befuddled as the Republican Party seems, there is no Democrat message other than being anti-Trump. At least this poll shows that will not be enough to get Democrats to the polls in big numbers.

Republican voters, and particularly Trump voters, are Republicans’ best asset. Democrat voters are Democrats’ own worst enemy.


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