2018 midterms

November Polling Update: On the Brink

Four days from the midterms, still a lot of very close races. Illustration: Jed Egan/Intelligencer

The polling universe is closing in on final projections of key races, and also covering some contests that haven’t gotten much attention until now.

1. Most Important New Poll(s):
In one of the country’s closest, bitterest, and most consequential races, the Georgia gubernatorial contest between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp, a new Atlanta Journal-Constitution/WSB poll with a large sample shows the two basically tied at 47 percent (Abrams has a 0.2 percent lead). Libertarian candidate Dave Metz is at 1.6 percent, and somehow, 4.8 percent are undecided. There remains a decent chance neither candidate will get a majority, which would lead to a December 4 runoff.

2. Big-Picture Polls:
The Democratic advantage in the generic congressional ballot remains stable, at 7.5 percent in the RealClearPolitics averages and 8.5 percent in the FiveThirtyEight averages. The president’s approval ratings are stable, too; they’re at 43.9 percent at RealClearPolitics and 42.1 percent at FiveThirtyEight. If there are any big late national trends developing, they are not evident in the polls at this point.

3. Best News for Democrats:
Things have been weird in rarely polled, rarely noticed Alaska lately, with incumbent independent governor Bill Walker dropping out of the race and endorsing Democrat (and former U.S. Senator) Mark Begich. Both these candidates had been trailing Republican Mike Dunleavy in earlier surveys. Now the sole public pollster in the state, Alaska Survey Research, is showing Begich within one point (42/43) of Dunleavy. The same pollster has Democrat Alyse Galvin with a 49/48 lead over veteran Representative Don Young. Alaska’s an unlikely place for Democrats to pick up a governorship and a House seat, but it could happen.

4. Best News for Republicans:
Two new polls from West Virginia, one from Emerson and another from MetroNews, show Republican attorney general Patrick Morrisey significantly cutting into incumbent Democratic senator Joe Manchin’s lead, which is down from double digits earlier in the fall to five points now (in both surveys). Morrisey had been all but written off, particularly after Manchin voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, but late momentum is clearly with the Republican.

5. Biggest Outlier:
This is a chronic outlier that is particularly odd right now: Rasmussen’s daily presidential tracking poll has Trump’s approval rating at 51 percent, equaling his highest mark since March of 2017. No other pollster shows Trump’s popularity peaking just prior to the midterms. It could be a one-day blip, of course, within a larger two-year outlier.

November Polling Update: On the Brink