2018 midterms

Polling Update: Every Day Now Brings Conflicting Evidence of Midterm Trends

But which way will they ultimately point? Illustration: Jed Egan/Intelligencer

With just eight days to go before the 2018 midterm elections, the polling data is rolling in, and there are interesting new data points aplenty.

1. Most Important New Poll:

There are signs that New Jersey Democratic senator Bob Menendez, who was tried on federal corruption charges last year, is stabilizing a modest lead in his suddenly competitive race with former pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin. A new poll from Emerson shows the incumbent up 47-42, and the fact that the contingent of undecided voters in this race is finally shrinking may eliminate a source of late swing votes for the challenger. National Democrats are also investing in TV ads for Menendez, denting Hugin’s big spending advantage. Still, The Cook Political Report has moved this race into the toss-up category.

2. Best Big-Picture Polls:

The generic congressional ballot remains relatively stable, with the Democratic advantage placed at 7.6 percent (7.7 percent last week) in the RealClearPolitics averages, and at 8.1 percent (8.5 percent last week) by FiveThirtyEight. These numbers are right on (or perhaps just above) the cusp of what Democrats think they need to regain control of the House.

After a period of very slight but steady improvement in the president’s approval ratings, they, too, seem to have stabilized, at 44.4 percent (44.3 percent last week) according to RealClearPolitics and 42.4 percent (42.9 percent last week) according to FiveThirtyEight.

3. Best News For Democrats:

In Southern California, it’s pretty clear that Democrat Mike Levin is pulling away in CA-49, where he is vying for the open U.S. House seat currently held by retiring Republican representative Darrell Issa. Levin led Republican Diane Harkey 53-39 in a New York Times/Siena College poll, the third survey since Labor Day to give Levin a double-digit lead. This is a classic “Romney/Clinton” district, which Republicans carried by 6.5 percent in the 2012 presidential contest and Democrats won by 7.5 percent in 2016.

4. Best News For Republicans:

Ted Cruz has a six-point (51-45) lead over Beto O’Rourke in the Texas Senate race, according to a new UT/Texas Tribune poll, which isn’t unusual, but it would appear to confirm that excitement over O’Rourke’s boffo fundraising and Democratic early voting performance hasn’t necessarily made this race highly competitive. Cruz has maintained a 5 to 9 point lead in six likely voter surveys since the beginning of October.

5. Biggest Outlier:

A WCTV poll from Florida gives Republican Ron DeSantis a three-point (48-45) lead over Democrat Andrew Gillum in that state’s red-hot gubernatorial race. That’s the only poll since July in which Gillum is not in the lead. Early voting is now fully underway in Florida.

Polling Update: More Conflicting Evidence of Midterm Trends