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MCKENNA: The GOP’s November Dreams Could Come Crashing Down. Here’s Why


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Michael McKenna Contributor
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Despite what you may have heard, at the moment there is little data that suggests that Republicans are on their way to a historic realignment in the 2022 elections. Given their general inability to say what they might do if given the majority (beyond impeach pretty much everyone), that might not be a bad thing.

Let’s think first about the generic ballot: “Are you planning to vote for the Republican or the Democrat candidate in 2022?” (RELATED: HOFFMAN: States Need To Restore Faith In America’s Elections. Here’s How To Make It Happen)

Right now, the generic ballot responses are all over the map, ranging from plus 4 percentage points for the Democrats (Politico) to plus 8 for the Republicans (Rasmussen). The average — which should be avoided because they are not statistically healthy — is plus 1.9% for the Republicans.

As always, some perspective is in order. In 1994, the Republicans performed 6 points better (51.5% to 45%) than the Democrats with respect to total votes cast in House races. In 2010, they did about the same (51.3% to 44.7%).

The narrowness of the generic ballot advantage is an outlier. All of the opinion research out there indicates that the Democrats, broadly speaking, are in trouble because of the national mood, because of concerns about inflation and the economy, because of the general hopelessness of Team Biden.

At the same time, it is equally clear that the Republicans have yet to seal the deal.

Let’s take a look at one survey, probably the best of the bunch so far, which illustrates the challenge facing Republicans. ABC/Washington Post executed a survey of 907 registered voters nationwide at the very end of April. It showed all the usual results — big Republican advantages with respect to inflation (plus 19), crime (plus 12), and the economy (plus 14) — and a president sinking (minus 10).

That all tracks with pretty much every other survey conducted since the disaster in Afghanistan. The interesting result, and one that also tracks with other opinion research, is that despite this, respondents only gave the Republicans a one-point advantage in the generic congressional ballot.

Or, maybe you’re a Harvard man. The Harvard/Harris team surveyed 1308 registered voters in late June. That survey, too, showed the usual results — 70% of respondents think we are on the wrong track; 88% think we are or will be in a recession shortly; President Joe Biden’s approval is net negative (20 points). Despite this, the generic ballot question was split 50-50.

These results are consistent with lots of other opinion research executed over the last few months, which consistently indicates voters identify both the economy and president as failing enterprises. At the same time, voters seem unwilling to commit fully to changing congressional horses, as the generic ballot results bounce around both the margin of error and the centerline.

How can that be? Voters are unequivocal that unalloyed Democratic rule has been a trainwreck.

What they are uncertain about is whether giving Republicans control of Congress will make it any better. One can hardly blame them. The Republicans have, for the most part, steadfastly refused to indicate what they might do if given control of the legislative branch, and have, in the last few years, shown an alarming and enduring preference for an adolescent obsession with social media rather than a willingness to engage on the substance of policy.

They should at least be thinking about arranging difficult votes on spending rescissions, energy independence, carbon taxes, border security, crime, etc. They may be; however, none of that is evident at the moment.

Finally, it is likely that the ongoing and pointless obsession with the 2020 elections by perhaps as much as a third of Republican voters makes voters wonder whether that a Republican congress will be productive and helpful in righting the ship of state.

It is, instead, perfectly rational to assume that a Republican congress would not necessarily be an improvement to the national discourse.

Michael McKenna is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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