We just finished our latest monthly national poll of 1,000 likely voters and it appears that the final week will be critical to decide who controls Congress — particularly the House of Representatives.
Just like the 2016 election, when we polled for President Trump, our advice to then candidate Donald Trump was to campaign with the right message right up until the time the polls closed and he would win. Our polls early in the campaign identified the winning message of change versus Clinton's failed policies and corruption.
Donald Trump created the momentum he needed to win.
Two years later we have a very different situation. President Trump is not on the ballot, but the Democrats are making the mistake of making the campaign a referendum on President Trump's policies, instead of promoting their own agenda. But then when you see their agenda of higher, job-killing taxes, open borders, government run healthcare, abolishing ICE, etc, you can understand why.
Instead, the Republican Congress' record of passing the president's agenda into law has been mixed. They passed the tax cut and that has helped. They got two Supreme Court appointees confirmed and many more federal judges confirmed, but failed to repeal and replace Obamacare or agree on an immigration fix.
So with a week left to campaign, we have a very competitive battle for control of the House.
Here's the results of our latest national poll:
- The number of voters who say the country is headed in the right direction up to 43 percent which is the highest level in last 4 years.
- The plurality of voters, 46 percent, want to change and move away from the policies of Barack Obama and 44 percent want to continue the policies of Obama.
- The president's job approval is 48 percent with 50 percent disapprove. This is up from 46 percent approval last month.
- Only 41 percent approve the job the Republican majority is doing in Congress; the majority of voters, 51 percent, disapproves. They are significantly less popular than the president.
- The majority 51 percent prefers smaller government with fewer services, 31 percent favor larger government with more services.
- The majority says the economy is getting better, 52 percent, to 36 percent who say it's getting worse.
- The majority approves of repealing and replacing Obamacare, 51 percent to 41percent.
- One quarter (25 percent) of all voters follow the president on Twitter 15 percent, Facebook 12 percent, or Instagram 7 percent (they can follow on more than one social media, and most follow more than one). If they follow the president on social media, 76 percent approve the job he's doing. If they don't follow the president on social media his job approval is only 39 percent.
When asked who they will be voting for Congress on a generic ballot, 46 percent, say that they will be voting for a Democrat, and 44 percent say that they will be voting for a Republican with 10 percent firmly undecided. This is closer than the Democrats' September lead of 4 percent.
However, just as Donald Trump had a "hidden vote" among the undecided voters in the polls, unless trends change this week, the Democrats may have a hidden vote as well.
Among the 10 percent of all voters who are undecided for Congress:
- Only 27 percent say the country is headed in the right direction; 49 percent say we're on the wrong track.
- They are split on continuing Obama's policies at 34 percent, and 33 percent who want to change Obama's policies.
- Only 37 percent approve the job the president is doing. 52 percent disapprove.
- Only 13 percent approve of the job the Republican majority is doing in Congress; 47 percent disapprove.
- 37 percent prefer smaller government with fewer services; 19 percent favor larger government with more services.
- 40 percent say the economy is getting better; to only 29 percent worse.
- They are split on repealing and replacing Obamacare 38 percent - 37 percent.
The Republicans are in the game, but they have to win back these undecided voters before they break against them two to one. If they do, the Republicans would lose the national generic vote for Congress 52 perecent to 48 percent.
That's what happened in 2006 and the Democrats gained 31 seats. The Democrats are doing better in the early vote this year as compared to 2016 and 2014 in key states like Florida and North Carolina. Many voters will vote early in person or by absentee this week and the Democrats can beat the Republicans on turnout on election day as they did in the election last year in Alabama and Virginia and many special elections since then. But the Republicans have a week to play offense. That's a lifetime in politics. A better message can still win it for the Republicans.
The strategic key is turning out more of the 63 million Trump voters who voted in the record turnout of 2016. When Donald Trump asked us in the summer of 2016 how he could win, we said he had to motivate new voters out of the 90 million eligible voters who didn't vote in 2012. He did. Millions of new voters came out, particularly in the country's heartland of the sun and rust belts.
The recent midterm elections had 83 million (2014) and 90 million (2010) voters come out.
This was significantly less than the 139 million who voted in 2016.
Right now, although the Kavanaugh hearings remotivated a lot of Trump voters, it looks like the anti-Trump voters are still more motivated to vote this year.
In the last week the Republicans need to do two things. Strategically, they should have a national message with national ads, on television, radio and social media, telling voters why to vote Republican for Congress. In 2016 everyone knew that President Trump's slogan was "Make America Great Again".
What's the Republican slogan this year? We have a week to go.
Tactically, the Nancy Pelosi Democrats and their allies are out spending the Republicans in most of the tossup House races. The Republicans need more money in the 30 to 40 House races they need to keep the majority. The Repubican National Committee (RNC) needs to refuel the NRCC independent expenditures in the tossup races — even if they have to borrow money as past chairman Haley Barbour did.
The Republican National Committee has outraised the Democratic National Committee two to one in President Trump's name. They have invested the vast majority of that money on a massive grassroots organization just like President Obama built.
It was the strategic result of their audit after Mitt Romney lost in the final days of the 2012 campaign. Ironically Hillary Clinton had the same allegedly superior organization in 2016. Donald Trump crushed the Hillary Obama machine with message and going straight to the voters. A strong persuasive message beats messageless doorknocking and phone calls. Voters need compelling reasons to get out and vote, especially in midterm elections.
Here's what the Republicans final message needs to be:
First they need to personalize the election. The president is best when he has an opponent. His real opponents are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. In the battle for the House it's Nancy Pelosi and right now if the Democrats take the House she becomes their face, voice, leader and the most powerful Democrat in the country. If current trends hold Nancy Pelosi will become the leader of the national Democratic party and the leading opponent of the president in Washington. Nancy Pelosi is a great opponent to have. She is immensely unpopular.
In our September poll which we did with Democrat Pat Caddell, among all voters, Pelosi had only a 30 percent favorable rating to a much larger 55 percent unfavorable rating. Nancy Pelosi energizes the Republican base and helps Republicans win among independents. Among Republicans she's 85 percent unfavorable to only 6 percent favorable; among Independents she is 58 percent unfavorable to only 26 percent favorable; including 62 percent unfavorable among independent men and 53 percent unfavorable among independent women. Even 24 percent of the Democrats are unfavorable to Pelosi. Among those who are currently undecided for Congress she's 56 percent unfavorable to only 21 percent favorable. Among 2016 Trump voters she's 86 percent unfavorable to only 6 percent favorable and among Clinton voters she has a 26 percent unfavorable.
In the same poll we asked, "if the Democrats win the election and take over the House, should Nancy Pelosi become Speaker of the House again?" The majority of all voters, 56 percent, opposed Pelosi, only 23 percent favored her. 86 percent of Trump voters oppose and so do 30 percent of Clinton voters. Also when we asked, "While some Democratic candidates are saying they prefer new leadership and would not support Nancy Pelosi, they are accepting millions of dollars that they are raising for their campaigns. Do you agree or disagree with this statement 'If you are taking money from Pelosi, whatever you do today, when it comes time after the election, the candidate will owe their support to her.'" 50 percent of all voters agreed. Only 29 percent disagreed. Trump voters agreed 66 percent to 17 percent, and 40 percent of Clinton voters agreed.
The Republicans need a national campaign to #StopPelosi. They could produce the stop Pelosi signs on TV digital, Facebook, twitter, Instagram, and print materials.
It would be very visual, very memorable and powerful.
Second, the Republicans need to focus the Stop Pelosi campaign on key important issue contrasts that the majority of voters agree with them and not the Democrats.
1. Stop the Pelosi Democrats From Raising and Killing Jobs.The tax cuts that are growing the economy and creating millions of new jobs are the president's greatest accomplishment. The majority of voters currently say the economy is getting better 52 percent to 36 percent. The Pelosi Democrats that want to repeal the Trump tax cuts would raise tax rates on 90 percent of all voters, cut the child tax credit from $2,000 to $1,000 and cut the personal standard tax deduction from $2,000 to $1,000. We've been testing this in many congressional races and it works.
2. Stop the Pelosi Democrats From Opening the Borders to More Terror, More Drugs, More Criminals, and More Illegal Immigrants. In our September poll with Pat Caddell, among all voter only 28 percent said "the United States should have an open borders immigration policy." Two-thirds, 65 percent, said "illegal immigration is just that illegal."
Trump voters opposed open borders 95 percent to 4 percent and 42 percent of Clinton voters opposed open borders. Among all voters: 58 percent disapproved abolishing ICE; 60 percent disapproved sanctuary cities that protect criminal illegal immigrants; and 56 percent agree that "Democrats by supporting sanctuary cities, advocating for abolishing ICE, and open borders are putting the rights of illegal immigrants over the rights of legal citizens."
3. Stop the Pelosi Democrats From Passing Socialist Government Run Healthcare, Ending Employer Paid Coverage and Ending Medicare for Seniors as We Know It. We have been testing this against Democrats in individual races and it tests very well.
4. Stop the Pelosi Democrats From Bringing Back the Washington, D.C. Swamp. In September we asked, "Since Donald Trump became president he has fought the Washington establishment and elites to drain the swamp. If the Democrats take over Congress, would you want to go back to putting the old elites and D.C. establishment back in charge?" 63 percent of all voters said No. Only 13 percent said yes.
86 percent of Trump voters said no and 43 percent of Clinton voters said no too.
5. Keep America First and Stop the Democrats From Going Back to the Global Elites.
Finally every 2016 Trump voter needs to be asked to bring another friend or family member to vote on Nov. 6.
The Republicans have a fighting chance to keep the House, but we have a week to go.
To see the actuall poll results on our website, click here.
John McLaughlin has worked professionally as a strategic consultant and pollster for over 35 years. During this time he has earned a reputation for helping some of America’s most successful corporations and winning some of the toughest elections in the nation. His political clients have included former Presidential candidates Steve Forbes and Fred Thompson, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and 22 current and former U.S. Senators and 21 current Republican members of Congress. Last year John worked as an advisor and pollster for Donald Trump from the primaries through Election Day.
Jim McLaughlin is a nationally recognized public opinion expert, strategic consultant and political strategist who has helped to elect a U.S. President, Prime Ministers, a Senate Majority Leader, and a Speaker of the House. Jim has worked for over 70 members of Congress, 14 U.S. Senators, 10 governors, numerous mayors and scores of other elected officials. He also serves as a consultant and market research strategist to Fortune 500 companies. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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