One month until the midterms: House Democrats lead Republicans by double-digits in new poll

A new study finds that 209 seats are firmly or leaning Democratic, nine shy of what's needed to retake the House

By Matthew Rozsa

Published October 9, 2018 1:07PM (EDT)

Demonstrators protest against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, as they march to the U.S. Supreme Court, on Oct. 4, 2018. (AP/Salon)
Demonstrators protest against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, as they march to the U.S. Supreme Court, on Oct. 4, 2018. (AP/Salon)

A new study reveals that Democrats are either heavily favored or leaning toward victory in 209 of the elections for seats in the House of Representatives, putting them just nine shy of reclaiming that legislative chamber for the first time since 2011.

The following was the conclusion of the latest updates to Politico's race ratings:

A total of 68 seats currently held by Republicans are firmly in play — rated as “Lean Republican” or worse for the GOP — presenting a stark contrast to the Democratic side, where only a half-dozen Democratic seats are in similar jeopardy.

The political environment has been jolted temporarily by the searing fight over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. But prior to that recent battle — which ended with Kavanaugh’s confirmation last week — Democrats had improved their electoral position since Labor Day, according to more than a dozen operatives and strategists in both parties.

In addition to meaning that Democrats seem to be safe or near-safe in 209 of the 218 seats they'll need to win back the House, the study also reveals a larger pattern of national opinion shifting against Trump. Despite the economy being widely regarded as in good health, Trump's approval ratings have been stuck in the high 30s and low 40s, suggesting a negative feeling toward the president that could trickle down to Republican incumbents.

READ MORE: Beto O'Rourke & Martin O'Malley: the dark horse ticket that could beat Trump in 2020

Another recently released poll by CNN yielded similarly dire conclusions for the Republican Party in 2018. The CNN poll conducted by SSRS found that 54 percent of likely voters said they support the Democratic candidates in their districts while only 41 percent feel the same way about the Republican candidates. It also found that enthusiasm among Democrats has increased by seven points, with 62 percent saying they're either extremely or very enthusiastic to vote, while Republicans have only seen a modest increase from 50 percent to 52 percent.

The only possible silver lining for the GOP regarding this poll is that it doesn't fully take into account the potential for the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings to invigorate the party base. As Politico wrote:

A temporary uptick in Republican enthusiasm over the final week of the Kavanaugh confirmation fight could give the party momentum that provides that change. But, strategists say, it could just as easily fade, and the dynamic could revert to where it was earlier in September: with Democrats poised to take the House and wage an uphill battle for the Senate, too.

There was another recent news story which boded well for Democrats, at least in one competitive state. In the 24 hours since pop star Taylor Swift posed on Instagram about her hope that her Tennessee fans would support Phil Bredesen and Jim Cooper in their respective races for Senate and the House of Representatives, roughly 65,000 new voters registered in the state, according to CNN., which tracked the results, found that 190,178 new voters had registered through throughout the United States in September and 56,669 in August, illustrating the potential impact of Swift's endorsements for Bredesen and Cooper.

A poll released by The Washington Post and the Schar School at George Mason University on Monday found that 50 percent of likely voters in 69 battleground districts in the House of Representatives preferred a Democratic candidate, with only 46 percent preferring a Republican candidate. In 2016 voters from those same districts pulled the ballot for Republican candidates over Democrats by a 15 point margin, 56 percent to 41 percent.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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2018 Midterm Elections Democrats Polling Republicans