With November creeping ever closer, the Democrats' chances of flipping the Senate are looking dimmer and dimmer. A "brutal" new poll by Axios/SurveyMonkey shows that the party is on track to lose three seats in the midterm elections: Republican Rick Scott has a 3-point lead on Sen. Bill Nelson (D) of Florida, Kevin Cramer has a 5-point lead on Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) of North Dakota, and Mike Braun has a 2-point lead on Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) of Indiana.
Democrats look likely to pick up two GOP seats, with Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema out-polling all three Arizona Republican candidates and Nevada's Jacky Rosen out-polling Sen. Dean Heller (R) by 3 points. Republicans look assured to hold their seat in Tennessee, where Marsha Blackburn has a 14-point lead on Democrat Phil Bredesen.
Still, that won't be enough to put Democrats over the edge — they would need to hold all 10 seats in Trump-friendly states, plus pick up an extra two. "It's looking nearly impossible for Democrats to take back the Senate," Axios concludes.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) leads his Democratic challenger, Rep. Beto O'Rourke (Texas), by 5 percentage points, 41 percent to 36 percent, with 17 percent expressing no opinion, according to a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. Cruz was leading O'Rourke by 3 points in an April Quinnipiac University poll, though that same poll had Cruz up by 11 points in May.
— Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune) June 25, 2018
Cruz is more unpopular than O'Rourke, who represents the West Texas district centered in El Paso, but he also has better name recognition — 41 percent of voters have a favorable view of Cruz and 42 percent view him unfavorably, while 37 percent view O'Rourke favorably and 24 percent have an unfavorable view. This poll "is an early look at the 2018 general election, a survey of registered voters — not of the 'likely voters' whose intentions will become clearer in the weeks immediately preceding the election," The Texas Tribune notes. "If recent history is the guide, most registered voters won't vote in November."
"The numbers also reflect, perhaps, the faint rumble of excitement from Democrats and wariness from Republicans who together are wondering what kind of midterm election President Donald Trump might inspire," the Tribune says. And Trump is only moderately popular in deep-red Texas — 47 percent approve of his job performance while 44 percent disapprove in the new poll. Democrats have never liked Trump, said UT government professor Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll. "And he would have been in a disaster area, except Republicans really ran to him. They like the way that he deals with the Democrats." The UT/TT poll was conducted online among 1,200 registered voters June 8-17, and it has an overall margin of error of ±2.83 percentage points. Peter Weber
The number of Democrats who rank immigration as the most important issue facing the country jumped 10 percentage points in the last week, to 18 percent, while independents are also more engaged, with 11 percent picking it as the nation's most pressing issue, according to an Axios/SurveyMonkey poll released Thursday. Republican interest in immigration hasn't really changed much since early May, when, as now, 21 percent listed it as their most important issue.
There's been a big jump over the last week in the percentage of Americans who say immigration is the most important issue facing the country. https://t.co/uyHs9RTAYa
— Axios (@axios) June 21, 2018
What seems to have changed is that Americans were "bombarded by the images and sounds of families being separated after trying to cross the border illegally" — a Trump policy that Axios' Mike Allen calls "the biggest blunder of the Trump presidency." The "big question" going forward, Axios says, is "whether Democrats will stay as interested as Republicans, who have consistently ranked immigration as a much higher priority than it is for Democrats and independents." The poll was conducted online June 15-19 among 3,936 adults, and the modeled error estimate is ±2.5 percentage points. Peter Weber
Voters are more enthusiastic than usual about voting in the 2018 midterm elections, and to an unprecedented degree, they have President Trump and partisan control of Congress in mind, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Wednesday. The numbers favor the Democrats, who have a 5-point advantage on the generic congressional ballot (48 percent to 43 percent) and voter enthusiasm (55 percent to 50 percent), but Republicans are almost as fired up, pointing to a close race. And Trump is a bigger factor than in any midterm since Pew first started asking during Ronald Reagan's first term — 34 percent of registered voters say they will essentially be voting against Trump while 26 percent will be voting for Trump, both historically high numbers.
"Trump is, on balance, a more negative than positive factor," said Carroll Doherty, Pew's director of political research. "But he is motivating about half of the voters in his own party." At the same time, Doherty said, "This is a different midterm than the ones in 2006, 2010, and 2014. In those midterms, you had one party that was more enthusiastic." This year, 51 percent of all voters are more enthusiastic than usual about casting their ballot, and 68 percent of registered voters say party control of Congress will be a factor for them this year, Pew's biggest recorded midterms number since 1998.
The poll shows that "the Democratic wave is building," Politico says, "but this year's Democratic wave may be crashing against a well-fortified GOP wall." The survey was conducted June 5-12 among 2,002 adults and 1,608 registered voters, with a margin of error of ±2.9 points for registered voters. You can find more demography and other data points at Pew. Peter Weber
In West Virginia's 3rd District, which President Trump won by 49.3 points in the 2016 election, Democratic candidate Richard Ojeda holds a sliver of a lead over Republican Carol Miller, the latest Monmouth University poll, released Wednesday, found. Forty-three percent of voters said they were with Ojeda, while Miller held onto 41 percent.
Curiously, Trump is still popular in the district: He has a 66 percent approval rating, with 49 percent of voters strongly approving of him. "Unlike other hotly contested House races in the country where dislike of the president is giving Democrats a boost, this West Virginia district seems to be competitive because the Democratic candidate has his own populist persona," observed the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, Patrick Murray. Despite running as a Democrat, Ojeda has said he voted for Trump in 2016.
David Wasserman of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report responded to the poll by tweeting that he will be moving the district from "likely Republican" to "lean Republican." The poll reached 428 voters in West Virginia's 3rd District between June 14 and 19, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent for the full sample. Read the full results here. Jeva Lange
President Trump's historically dismal approval rating is no longer looking quite so historic. A Gallup poll released Monday shows that 513 days into his presidency, Trump has tied his highest approval rating at 45 percent. As Business Insider's Allan Smith observed, by comparison to past presidencies that isn't too shabby — it is even a blip higher than former President Bill Clinton's rating was on his 524th day in office:
Trump is at 45% on day 513 of his presidency
Obama was at 45% on day 523 of his presidency
Clinton was at 44% on day 524 of his presidency https://t.co/NZX88n1K5U
— Allan Smith (@akarl_smith) June 18, 2018
Trump's rating was up 3 points since June 10, matching his rating on Jan. 29, 2017, The Hill reports. The weekly poll reached 1,500 adults with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 points.
A separate Gallup poll released Monday also found that 38 percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S., which Bloomberg News' Sahil Kapur notes is "the highest rating in nearly 12 years." That poll reached 1,520 people between June 1 and 13 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 points; see the full findings here. Jeva Lange
Over half of Republicans support the Trump administration's family separation policy, Quinnipiac poll finds
President Trump's administration has faced widespread bipartisan outcry over its new "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which involves separating children from their families at the border. But even as many Republican leaders have called for an immediate end to the policy, a whole 55 percent of Republican voters support the practice, a Quinnipiac poll released Monday found, while 35 percent of GOP voters oppose it.
Overall, most Americans oppose the family separation policy: Just 27 percent of Americans support it, and an overwhelming 66 percent oppose it. "When does public opinion become a demand that politicians just can't ignore?" asked the poll director, Tim Malloy. "Two-thirds of American voters oppose the family separation policy at our borders."
A whole 91 percent of Democrats oppose the policy, with a mere 7 percent supporting it. Young voters between the ages of 18 and 35 also strongly oppose the policy, 80 percent to 16 percent.
The poll reached 905 voters across the country between June 14 and 17 and has a margin of error of 3.9 points. See the full results here, and read the results of a separate Daily Beast poll that found a plurality of Republicans agreed with the policy separating undocumented immigrant parents from their children here. Jeva Lange
The tide appears to be turning against Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose unfavorable ratings have reached new highs with Republicans, Democrats, and independents, a Politico/Morning Consult poll has found. Now an entire 53 percent of Republican voters view Mueller negatively, up 26 points since last July. Additionally, GOP members of Congress are growing increasingly restless with his ongoing probe, which has now entered its second year.
Among Democrats, a record 24 percent have an unfavorable opinion of Mueller, and among independents that number is even higher, 33 percent. Across all voters, 36 percent hold a poor opinion of Mueller, up from 23 percent just under a year ago.
Part of the reason for the shift appears to be that voters think the investigation is being handled unfairly — 40 percent of voters say so, up from 34 percent in February. But while President Trump has often made hay of Mueller's alleged bias, 48 percent of voters say the president tried to obstruct the Russia investigation, up 4 points from February. A vast majority of voters, 59 percent, say Trump should not self-pardon if charges are brought against him.