Poll results these days are generally bad for Democrats. Joe Biden’s approval rating has dropped precipitously through the less than ten months he has been in office, and is well under 50% in all current polls of which I am aware. This Washington Post/ABC News poll is getting a lot of attention. The survey finds Biden under water at 41%/53%; no surprise there.

But the poll’s most striking feature is the generic Congressional question: if the election for the U.S. House of Representatives were being held today, would you vote for (or lean toward) the Republican or the Democratic candidate? Among registered voters, the GOP has a stunning ten-point lead, 51% to 41%. That is the widest pro-GOP margin since WaPo/ABC began asking the question 40 years ago.

A caveat, though: in this survey, respondents were 27% Democrats, 26% Republicans, and 37% independents. Maybe a lot of people have been switching parties–I hope so–but as recently as September, party affiliation of respondents in the same poll was 30% Democrats and 24% Republicans. So at least in part, the Republicans’ stunning ten-point margin reflects a larger number of Republicans being surveyed.

Still, it is hard for Democrats to find much good news in any recent poll. Their real problem is that, whichever problems voters are most focused on–the rising cost of living, crime, Critical Race Theory in the schools, supply chain issues, the non-existent Southern border, or incompetent foreign policy–are unlikely to get much better between now and next October.

Democrats hope that passing their mega-spending bills will boost their (and Biden’s) popularity. That is a possibility, since those measures poll reasonably well, at least when they are spun positively in poll questions. (E.g., the WaPo/ABC asked “Do you support or oppose the federal government spending one trillion dollars on roads, bridges and other infrastructure,” when only around one-quarter of that bill actually goes for infrastructure.) But voters’ views on these spending bills are mixed at best, since most understand that they will increase inflation, and in this survey, 59% say they are concerned that Biden will “do too much to increase the size and role of government in U.S. society.”

The 2022 election is of course a long way off, but right now the tea leaves don’t look good for the Democrats. And, worse, it is hard to see how they can execute a course correction that will significantly boost their prospects. They are basically in the mode of hoping for the pace of bad news to slow down.

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