Fox News poll brings bad news for Republicans

A poll by the pro-Trump network Fox News has some ominous news for Republicans as they head into the 2018 midterms

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published July 13, 2018 4:13PM (EDT)

Kevin McCarthy   (Getty/Jim Watson)
Kevin McCarthy (Getty/Jim Watson)

Fox News may be a network that is overwhelmingly sympathetic to President Donald Trump, but even their latest poll can't conceal the ominous news that exists for the Republican Party among the general voting public.

While 54 percent of Democrats describe themselves as being "extremely interested" in voting in the 2018 midterm elections, the same is true for only 47 percent of Republicans, according to the Fox News poll. Just as notably, although only 42 percent of Republicans said they were more enthusiastic about the election than usual, 51 percent of Democrats were willing to say the same thing about themselves.

Overall the survey found that voters asked about their preferences on a generic ballot preferred the Democratic candidate over the Republican candidate by a margin of 48 percent to 40 percent, which is roughly the same as the margin of 48 percent to 39 percent discovered by that same poll in June. That said, when the survey results only include voters who are extremely interested in the upcoming election, the Democratic margin over Republicans on the generic ballot rises to 54 percent to 41 percent.

Of particular interest is the gender gap, considering that female candidates have been doing disproportionately well in the recent election cycle. Among Democrats, 54 percent of men and 53 percent of women are extremely interested in the upcoming elections, which is effectively a statistical tie. Among Republicans, however, the Fox News poll found that only 39 percent of Republican women are extremely interested compared to 53 percent of Republican men — an interest gap of 14 points.

"Democrats usually have been leading the House generic ballot polling by mid-to-high single digits across polling averages for almost the entire cycle, and polling also has shown Democrats are generally more excited about voting, a trend that I think is backed up by the bulk of the elections that have happened since President Trump was elected," Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball,  explained. "So yes, the poll is in line with what we’ve seen. Democrats are probably 50-50 or even a bit better to take the House, although Republicans remain favored in the Senate thanks to favorable (for them) group of Senate seats being contested this cycle."

Of course, the big question is whether a Democratic sweep in November could imperil Trump's presidency. While there is little question that a Democratic takeover of either chamber would stymie Trump's legislative agenda, the prospects of forcibly removing Trump from office are much bleaker for Democrats.

"Democrats could start impeachment proceedings with a simple majority vote in the House. That’s what the Republican-controlled House did to Bill Clinton," Kondik told Salon. "However, it would take a two-thirds vote in the Senate to actually remove Trump from office, and there’s no way the Democrats will have the requisite number of Senate seats to do that by themselves in 2019-2020. So it would the votes of a substantial number of Senate Republicans along with all the Senate Democrats to actually remove Trump from office in the event of impeachment."

More midterm election statistics came from a poll taken by Washington Post-Schar School, according to The Washington Post. It found that 58 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents felt it was "extremely" important for them to vote in the upcoming midterm elections, compared to 38 percent among Republican leaners (the overall number was 46 percent of registered voters feeling that it was "extremely" important to vote). That said, the Post reported that "the partisan gap shrinks a bit across the 58 congressional districts defined as 'toss up' or 'leaning' toward one party’s candidate or another, according to the Cook Political Report (as of June 20). Among Democratic leaners in battlegrounds, 59 percent say that it’s extremely important to vote in midterms, and 46 percent of Republican leaners in battlegrounds say the same."

One wild card in the 2018 midterm elections, however, is the possibility that the results could be altered due to Russian cyber meddling, as Clare Malone of explained in April:

While Americans are well-acquainted with Russian online trolls’ 2016 disinformation campaign, there’s a more insidious threat of Russian interference in the coming midterms. The Russians could hack our very election infrastructure, disenfranchising Americans and even altering the vote outcome in key states or districts. Election security experts have warned of it, but state election officials have largely played it down for fear of spooking the public. We still might not know the extent to which state election infrastructure was compromised in 2016, nor how compromised it will be in 2018.

Another wild card in the 2018 midterm elections is the recent announcement by Trump that he is nominating Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. As a recent report by CNN indicated, this could be instrumental in the Republican Party's midterm election plans:

The Republican National Committee is launching an effort to turn President Donald Trump's Supreme Court appointment into a dominant issue in 10 key states ahead of November's midterm elections, CNN has learned.

The GOP's effort -- which includes an extensive field program, digital ads and op-eds -- targets Democratic senators up for re-election in states Trump won in 2016 and illustrates how crucial Republicans believe the issue will be for their base in the midterm elections.
The RNC plans to make Brett Kavanaugh's nomination the focus of phone calls and door-to-door visits with flyers and petitions, as well as Facebook and Twitter ad buys, email campaigns, volunteer training efforts and op-eds in key areas. The RNC has committed $250 million toward the midterms, a staffer said.

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By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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2018 Midterm Elections Brett Kavanaugh Democrats Donald Trump Fox News Fox Polls Republicans