Trump's approval rating is slightly better, but Democrats still favored to retake House

A new poll found that Trump's approval rating is so low that it is dragging GOP House candidates down with him

By Matthew Rozsa
Published October 14, 2018 4:00PM (EDT)
 (AP/Evan Vucci)
(AP/Evan Vucci)

A recent poll reveals that while President Donald Trump has seen a mild bump in his approval ratings, the Republican Party is still expected to lose control of the House of Representatives in November.

new ABC News/Washington Post poll found that Trump's approval rating is 41 percent, a five point increase from his 36 percent approval rating in August. At the same time, 54 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump's performance as president, and overall his approval rating has been stuck in the 36 percent to 42 percent range since he took office and has averaged 38 percent. This places Trump, politically, at a low point roughly comparable to that which faced President Harry Truman after he initially took office. When Truman's Democratic Party faced off against Republicans in the 1946 midterm elections, they lost 54 seats in the House of Representatives.

The recent poll suggests that Trump's Republican Party may be heading toward a similar fate in the 2018 midterm elections. Overall Democratic candidates are head of their Republican counterparts by 11 percentage points among registered voters, with 53 percent saying they'd like to vote for a Democrat in their district and 42 percent saying they'd like to vote for a Republican. More encouragingly for Democrats, they seem able to hold that lead among likely voters in a number of turnout scenarios, holding onto leads that range from 12 percentage points to 14 percentage points. There is also a notable gender gap, with a poll produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates finding that female registered voters support Democratic candidates by 59 percent to 37 percent while men split roughly evenly at 46 percent for Democrats to 48 percent for Republicans.

This isn't to say that there aren't reasons for Democrats to be cautious. As ABC News reported:

The Democrats, to be sure, also can find grounds to worry. Their support is strongest among minorities and young adults, groups that tend to have lower turnout in midterm elections. It’s also focused in urban areas, where the Democrats generally already control House seats; specifically, registered voters favor Democratic candidates by 63-31 percent in cities, vs. an essentially even 49-46 percent in suburbs and 44-53 percent in rural areas.

That suggests a Democratic overvote in districts they already hold, and other evidence backs it up. In districts rated as solid or likely Republican by the ABC News Political Unit, Republican candidates lead by 55-40 percent. In districts rated as solid or likely Democratic, Democrats lead, by a much larger margin – 68-28 percent – more than they need in these locales. And in the 66 House districts rated as only leaning either way, or as tossups, it’s a 46-47 percent D-R race.

At the same time, Politico's race ratings found last week that Democrats are either heavily favored or leaning toward victory in 209 of the elections for seats in the House of Representatives. If Democrats can flip only nine of the remaining seats, that would be enough for them to take over the House of Representatives.

In related news, a recent CNN poll conducted by SSRS found that former Vice President Joe Biden is the heavy favorite to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020, followed by Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

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 Approval Ratings Democrats Donald Trump Republicans