Recent Polls Find 2016 Could Be Shaping Up As Wave That Widely Ousts Republicans

A down-ballot wave sweeping Republicans out of federal and state office may be taking shape as Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress continue to alienate swaths of the voting public, according to a recent series of polls by Democracy Corps.

“This just might be such an election,” they reported Monday. “The Republican brand… is badly tarnished.”

The firm, led by Democrats Stan Greenberg and James Carville, last week released a national poll taken in late June that found Hillary Clinton 11 percentage points ahead of Trump, which matches her largest lead in national polls.

More intriguingly, that poll hinted that Democrats were gaining strength as many voters said they were inclined to cast straight party line votes for November’s entire Democrats ticket, and a sizable number of Republicans were willing to vote for Democrats running for Congress.

“It showed the Democrats with an eight-point lead… something we have not seen since June of 2009,” they said. “It is also the first time that we have seen the presidential margin [Clinton’s lead] exceed the Democrats’ party identification advantage [straight-party voting].

That means more voters who previously voted for Republican presidents are willing to break that pattern this year. But it is not just in the presidential race, they said, and cited another recent poll of nearly 3,000 people in nine presidential battleground states that delved into the reason why.

“In Democracy Corps’ nine-state battleground survey… it did not take much for those not currently supporting the Democratic Senate candidate to say, enough!”

Once the pollsters “pointed out that ‘Republicans in Congress and in their own state legislature’” oppose “abortion even in case of rape and incest”...“oppose restricting gun rights for people on the terror watch list”...“oppose gay marriage and new laws barring discrimination,” and, “oppose new laws guaranteeing equal pay for women,” a stunning turnaround followed.    

“After hearing that information, one-third of those not voting for the Senate Democratic candidate said they would vote for the Democrat, and one in four said they were ‘very certain’ to change their vote,” they reported. “That is a breathtaking number, and we now believe we are onto something—something that Republicans figured out when they used Obamacare in the off-year elections of 2010 and 2014… It allowed them to say, ‘vote against the Democrats because of Obamacare, not because I want a political party to win.’”

In other words, in a season where voters are not showing great loyalty to parties as galvanizing institutions, the spectrum of extremist stances taken by the GOP in Congress and in the presidential campaign is prompting voters to discard usual party labels and look at where candidates stand on issues that are important to them.

And it is not just in the presidential election.

“The information [on gun control, pay equity, abortion and LGBT equality] also immediately consolidated the potential Democratic vote down-ballot,” they said. “It moved three-quarters of Clinton voters who were not yet supporting the Democrat in the race for Senate; it shifted half of the Rising American Electorate not yet voting for the Democrat, including half of the millennials and unmarried women. It is clearly giving Democratically inclined voters a reason to vote straight-ticket.”

The Republican focus and opposition to “abortion, sensible gun limits, and equality for the LGBT community and women, both in Congress and out state legislature, is emotional, real, motivating and allows Democrats to consolidate their broad base in a potentially big election,” they said.

While pollsters conclude by adding qualifiers, such as the need to do more polling, especially of the public’s response to “other parts of the conservative agenda,” they end on a more hopeful note than one might expect in a political season marked by widespread discontent.

“We hope this contributes to the strategic conversation among progressives,” they concluded.


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