The Takeaway: Blue Wave Coming?

The Takeaway: Blue Wave Coming?
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Intriguing tidbits from the week in election surveys and public opinion polls.

Dems Seeing Blue Wave: Democrats are absolutely giddy in the wake of Doug Jones’ surprise upset of Roy Moore in Tuesday’s Senate special election in Alabama, now believing they have a real shot to take back one or both chambers of Congress in 2018. Bolstering their hope that a blue wave is building ahead of next year’s midterms is a spate of new polls showing Democrats extending their lead over Republicans in the generic congressional ballot. According to the latest RealClearPolitics Average, Democrats now lead the GOP, 47.6 percent to 36.4 percent. That 11.2 percentage-point lead is the largest it has been all year.

Voters: Congress Still Stinks: A Gallup survey released Thursday shows continued dissatisfaction with Congress. Just 19 percent of Americans approve of the way lawmakers in Washington are doing their jobs. Although this is a two percentage-point improvement over last year’s reading and five points better than Congress’ all-time low of 14 percent in 2014, it’s still abysmal. As a point of reference, Congress’ highest approval rating came in 2001, hitting a yearly average of 56 percent as the public rallied behind government in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Also of note, with the GOP now controlling all branches of government, Republican respondents’ approval of Congress jumped to 28 percent in 2017 from 15 percent last year, while Democrats’ approval declined to 13 percent from 19 percent over the same period. Independents’ attitudes were unchanged.

An Erosion of Trust: It’s unimaginable these days, but in the late 1950s and early ’60s, three out of four Americans said they trusted the government in Washington “always” or “most of the time.” Then came Vietnam, Watergate, and the Iranian hostage crisis. By the time Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, the number of people trusting government “most/always” had dropped from three out of four to one out of four.  As the data from this Pew Research survey demonstrates, despite a recovery during the economic boom under Bill Clinton and hitting 49 percent in the aftermath of 9/11, trust in government has declined precipitously.  It’s been under 20 percent, on average, for the last four years. 

O, Say Can’t You See? A new Marist poll, conducted in conjunction with the HBO show “Real Sports,” shows that 20 percent of Democrats believe the national anthem should not be played at sporting events. Just 13 percent of Independents and 3 percent of Republicans say the anthem should not be played.  On a related note, 70 percent of football fans surveyed said that NFL owners who spoke out against players kneeling during the anthem did so to protect the “public reputation and revenues of the team” while just 22 percent said they did it out of respect for the song itself.

A Red & Blue Christmas: The latest data point in our divided America: According to a new survey from Monmouth University, 87 percent of Republicans use “Merry Christmas” as their “preferred seasonal greeting,” while only 58 percent of Democrats do. Conversely, one in three Democrats prefer to use the more secular -- and politically correct -- “Happy Holidays” greeting, compared to just 9 percent of Republicans. For what it’s worth, 48 percent of respondents admitted to having a favorite animated holiday television special. Among them, 32 percent said it was “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” beating out shows featuring Charlie Brown (24 percent) and the Grinch (14 percent).

The author’s personal favorite, “The Simpsons Christmas Special,” finished with less than 1 percent of the vote. D’oh!

Tom Bevan is the Co-Founder & Publisher of RealClearPolitics and the co-author of Election 2012: A Time for Choosing. Email:, Twitter: @TomBevanRCP

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