Democrats have an early 2020 generic ballot edge … but | Friday Morning Coffee

May 10, 2019 7:02 am

Joe Biden campaigns in Pittsburgh (Politico – screen capture)

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
So here’s some early good news for Democrats as they look to hold their edge in the U.S. House and perhaps build on their presence in the United State Senate: Ten months out from the Iowa Caucus, Democrats hold the same generic ballot edge heading into the critical 2020 cycle that they did heading into 2018.

As University of Virginia political analyst Kyle Kondik writes this week, Democrats hold an average 6-point lead in the 11 generic ballot polls that were conducted between Jan. 1 and April 30 of this year. Democrats held an identical, 6-point average lead in the 12 generic ballot polls conducted between Jan. 1 and April 30 of 2017, too.

As Kondik notes, however, Democrats held generic ballot leads in both the 2010 and 2014 cycles and ended up getting skunked both times. So these early numbers are either a good omen or a warning of a dire butt-kicking yet to come.

“It may be that a pro-Democratic sentiment on the House generic ballot right now is essentially just a proxy for a preference for a generic Democratic presidential candidate against President Donald Trump,” Kondik adds, probably not helpfully for Democratic activists. “Former Vice President Joe Biden, typically the strongest-polling Democrat against Trumpleads the incumbent by about seven points, on average, in polling so far, pretty similar to the Democratic House ballot lead.”

Now some math things:

“Republicans need to flip at least 18 House seats to win the chamber. With 31 Democrats in Trump-won seats, Republicans could win the House back just by sweeping all the Democratic House districts where Trump won by three points or more in 2018,” Kondik writes, adding that’s “easier said than done.”

“When the Democrats won the House from the Republicans in 2006 and 2018, their final generic ballot poll average lead in RealClearPolitics was 11.5 and 7.3 points, respectively. When Republicans took control of the House in 2010, their lead was 9.4 points. So the Republicans will need to be leading on the House generic ballot in order to win the House; they just might not need to lead by as much,” Kondik observed.

And a word or two about redistricting:

Democrats could see their chances bolstered if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to get involved with redistricting cases in Maryland (a Democratic gerrymander), Michigan, North Carolina and Ohio (all Republican gerrymanders).

So it’s possible all four states could have new maps come 2020. Or maybe not — for a bunch of reasons entirely too tedious and inside baseball to get into a newsletter that’s already too inside baseball for words.

Just remember that “It took arguably the most liberal Supreme Court in American history, the Earl Warren court of the 1960s, to issue the landmark decisions that finally ended the malapportionment of congressional and state legislative districts, forcing districts to have equal populations and enshrining the principle of “one person, one vote” into legislative redistricting jurisprudence,” Kondik observed.

And since those decisions, the Supreme Court has repeatedly declined to intervene in partisan redistricting cases, and the current John Roberts court is very much unlike the Warren Court in terms of ideology. The Supreme Court punted on a gerrymandering decision last year; since then, Brett Kavanaugh has replaced Anthony Kennedy on the court, arguably positioning the court further to the right,” Kondik writes.

The bottom line then: “without knowing what the Supreme Court ultimately will say, we’d be surprised if this ends up being the court that intervenes against partisan redistricting.”

But because we’d hate to send our Democratic friends into the weekend completely despondent, here’s a flash of encouragement:

“As it stands now, we continue to consider the Democrats favorites to hold their House majority, with a Trump reelection victory a necessary, but perhaps not sufficient, condition for a restoration of unified GOP rule in Washington,” Kondik wrote.

Our Stuff:
Sarah Anne Hughes
 leads our coverage this morning with a story about a bill sponsored by a Poconos lawmaker that gives secular couples some additional choices on wedding celebrants.

Stephen Caruso has the story on state Rep. Liz Hanbidge, a Democratic freshman from suburban Philly, who says Speaker Mike Turzai ignored her request to speak during Wednesday’s floor debate on that horrible Down syndrome abortion bill.

We had a few thoughts on Exelon Energy’s apparently unsuccessful attempt to extort a $500 million bailout for Three Mile Island out of the General Assembly.

On our Commentary Page, a long-serving substitute in the Harrisburg city schools says the district’s financial struggles are a symptom of a larger failure by policymakers to adequately fund public education. It would also help if the school board wasn’t both hilariously and tragically incompetent. But that’s just us talking here.

And a psychiatry professor at Wayne State University explains how — and why — mass shootings exact a societal toll on all of us.

The Inquirer profiles the community activists who are running for Philadelphia City Council this year. 
Pittsburgh’s City Controller has a few sound strategies for saving money: Putting stuff out to bid, and buying on AmazonThe Post-Gazette reports.
PennLive profiles the Republican primary for Cumberland County District Attorney, which features two, veteran prosecutors.
Ahead of its scheduled demolition, Bethlehem residents have some environmental concerns about the Martin Tower’s implosion, The Morning Call reports.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

Anti-abortion activists are planning a massive rally outside the Philly office of Planned Parenthood today in reaction to Rep. Brian Sims’ viral rant, BillyPenn reports.
Super-cool actor Jeff Goldblum will be the new voice of Pittsburgh’s Buhl Planetarium, The Incline reports.
Pennsylvania landscaping companies are competing for summer landscaping visasWHYY-FM reports.
A conference at Penn State is focusing on best practices for the state’s new anti-hazing lawWPSU-FM reports.
State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro is getting some buzz as a potential Democratic candidate 2020 candidate for the 16th Congressional DistrictPoliticsPA reports.
Politico looks at Beto O’Rourke’s ‘long history of failing upward.’

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
State Rep. Mike Reese holds his annual golf outing at 8 a.m. at Laurel Valley Golf Club in lovely Ligonier, Pa. Admission runs from a mere $1,250 all the way up to a truly ridiculous $5,000 – at which point we assume you have OddJob from “Goldfinger” as your caddy.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to our old boss, PennLive VP of Content, Cate Barron, who celebrates today. Congrats and enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s an old favorite from Texas’ The Derailers. It’s called “Bar Exam.” And yes, the pun is exactly as wonderfully awful as you think it is.

Friday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Boston beat Carolina 5-2 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference final on Thursday night. Whole lotta hockey left, folks.

And now you’re up to date. 

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.