Last week, Gallup raised a few eyebrows -- mine included -- when its tracking poll showed Democrats with a six-point advantage on the generic ballot. The generic ballot doesn't tell us much about the outcome of individual races, but it gives you a sense of the national mood. For most of the year, Democrats were either tied or trailing Republicans on the generic ballot, and it was something of a shock to see Democrats with a sudden six-point advantage. This week's tracking poll still shows Democrats with advantage, but at four points, it's more in line with previous trends:
For more context, here is the Pollster average for the generic ballot:
Democratic performance on the generic ballot has improved, but with the added context of other polls, it's clear that it is still quite weak. And while it may improve in the coming weeks -- as partisans return to the fold and voter preferences solidify -- it's unlikely to get much better.
For my part, these results add more fuel to my view that this year's election is something akin to an electoral reversion to the mean. Democrats made overwhelming gains in 2006 and 2008, winning seats in districts that had no business sending a Democrat -- even a conservative one -- to the House. It's not that Republicans have discovered a groundswell of public support, as much as it is that the landscape is reverting to an equilibrium, and Republicans are gaining seats that should have been theirs in the first place.
-- Jamelle Bouie