Upcoming Conference | 2018 Re-Wire Policy Conference, Dec 13, 2018 Register

Democrats lead in new midterm elections poll, but Republicans closing the gap

The latest poll conducted by Elway Research shows Democrats with an edge in both state legislative and congressional elections, but Republicans are closing the gap.  The poll also indicates that national politics are more polarizing than state politics for Washington voters, which may hint at both Democratic and Republican campaign strategies.

In a statewide generic ballot, the poll shows Democrats with a 9-point advantage for the state legislature.  Forty six percent of responders said they plan to vote mostly for Democrats (of that group, 21 percent said they will only vote for Democrats) and 37 percent said they plan to vote mostly for Republicans including 16 percent who said they will only vote for Republicans.

Though still in the minority, voters planning to vote mostly for Republicans increased by four points since January, while Democrats numbers stayed the same.

The Democratic lead is slight larger in a generic ballot for Congress where Democrats have a 10-point advantage. Forty eight percent said they plan to vote for a Democrat and 38 plan to vote for a Republican.

 

It should be noted that these measurements are based off of a statewide generic ballot, not broken down by district.

“While Democrats in Washington continue to have a decided advantage, there are at least two reasons for caution: one is that Republicans appear to have gained some ground in recent months. The other reason is structural — read district boundaries,” says Stuart Elway, or Elway Research. “A blue wave in blue districts will do little to change the political balance of power.”

Seven months away from the election, in the congressional vote, only 13 percent polled said they were undecided. With the exception of the 5th CD, all questions specifically named the incumbent candidate vs either the Democratic or Republican challenger. For example, one question was phrased, “Republican incumbent Dan Newhouse vs. his Democratic challenger.” This means, a large majority of those polled said they knew who they would vote for without knowing the name of both candidates.

The poll also asked voters about political party favorability. State Democrats and state Republicans have similar ratings with 48/46 (favorable/unfavorable) for Democrats and 46/50 for Republicans. However, favorability of national Republicans tanks by comparison at 35/61.

Elway thinks this will likely shape the overarching political strategies of both parties in Washington.

“Democrats will try to nationalize the election and Republicans will try to localize it,” says Elway. “Republicans will talk about waking up every day to fight for the hard-working people of the district. Democrats will talk about the scourge of Donald Trump. Republicans will talk about keeping “Seattle values” out of our wholesome district. Democrats will talk about the scourge of Donald Trump.”

Results from the poll also found evidence of an “enthusiasm gap” between political parties heading into the midterm elections.

In the questions above, all favor democrats, indicating more enthusiasm and motivation from that party. The biggest swing towards Democrats have to do with national politics. Questions on the state level were more balanced.

Below are poll responses for the legislature broken down by demographic: