Poll: GOP gains on generic ballot, Trump approval ticks upward
Republicans have erased the Democratic advantage on the generic congressional ballot in a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll that, for the first time since April, also shows President Donald Trump’s approval rating equaling the percentage of voters who disapprove of his job performance.
Fully 39 percent of registered voters say they would support the GOP candidate for Congress in their district, while 38 percent would back the Democratic candidate. Nearly a quarter of voters, 23 percent, are undecided.
Voters are split almost evenly along party lines. Democratic voters break for their party, 85 percent to 5 percent, while Republicans similarly favor the GOP, 84 percent to 8 percent. Among independent voters, 26 percent would vote for the Democrat, 25 percent for the Republican and nearly half, 49 percent, are undecided.
The GOP’s 1-point advantage comes after three months of tracking in which Democrats maintained a lead ranging between 2 and 10 points on the generic ballot. That has been generally smaller than the party’s lead in other public surveys: The most recent RealClearPolitics average shows Democrats ahead by 7 points on the generic ballot, though that’s down from a high of 13 points late last year.
The new year has also produced a Trump polling bump. In the new poll, 47 percent of voters approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while the same percentage disapprove.
Among Democrats, 16 percent approve of Trump’s job performance and 80 percent disapprove. The numbers are almost exactly inverted among Republicans: 82 percent approve, while 16 percent disapprove. Trump is still underwater among independents: 39 percent approve and 49 percent disapprove.
Like with the generic ballot, other public polling is less rosy for Trump — but there is a distinct improvement over the past two months. The president’s average approval rating as of late Tuesday was 41 percent, up from a low-water mark of 37 percent in mid-December.
But, overall, the poll shows that voters’ perceptions of Republicans have recovered from the lows of late last year, including on a number of key issues.
“Not only have Republicans increased support on the generic congressional ballot, they are now trusted more to handle the most important issue when voters head to the polls: the economy,” said Kyle Dropp, Morning Consult’s co-founder and chief research officer. “In mid-December, 39 percent of voters said they trusted Democrats more to handle the economy, compared to 38 percent who said Republicans. Today, 43 percent say Republicans and 32 percent say Democrats."
Congressional Republicans also have a 9-point advantage on handling jobs, a 6-point lead on dealing with immigration and a 19-point lead on handling national security. The Democratic advantage on health care has dwindled to just 4 percentage points, down from double digits last year.
And while House Democrats have pledged to yoke GOP candidates to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the poll suggests that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will be a more effective foil for Republicans than Ryan will be for Democrats.
Voters are split on their perceptions of Ryan: 36 percent view him favorably, and 40 percent have an unfavorable opinion.
But Pelosi’s numbers are more negative: Only 28 percent of voters have a favorable impression of her, while nearly half, 49 percent, view her unfavorably.
The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll was conducted Feb. 8-12, surveying 1,985 registered voters. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.