Stuart Rothenberg

Analysis: Why I’m Cautious About Phil Bredesen’s Prospects in Tennessee
Former governor is running a good race, but federal campaign dynamics could turn against him

Two early surveys show former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, holding a lead over Republican Rep. Marcia Blackburn in hypothetical ballot tests of this year’s Senate race.

Those polls, along with kind words about Bredesen from retiring Tennessee GOP Sen. Bob Corker, have raised the contest’s profile and heightened the buzz. But it’s best to be cautious about the former governor’s prospects as you watch the race play out.

Analysis: Trump Numbers Are Up. And Down. But Really Unchanged.
It’s still too early to read too much into recent polling shifts

New national polls show voters are more upbeat about President Donald Trump’s performance and more pessimistic about the Democrats’ chances of taking back the House. Or not.

An April 8-11 Washington Post-ABC News poll showed Trump’s job approval rating at 40 percent, while 56 percent disapproved of his performance.

Analysis: Can a President Preaching Change Lead a Party of Incumbents?
Trump ran as a disrupter, but that may not be enough to save House GOP this fall

I have long argued that on the most fundamental level, all elections are choices between continuity and change.

The “in” party needs voters to believe that things are going well — or at least improving — while the “out” party needs to sell its message of change.

Analysis: When History Overtakes a Campaign Promise
Nearly 20 years ago, the DCCC and NRCC pledged to play nice

The press release from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was groundbreaking, if difficult to believe.

The chairman of the DCCC said his committee “will not fund any Democratic candidate who initiates attacks against their Republican opponents of an ‘intimate’ personal nature.”

Analysis: How Can the GOP Turn Out Trump Voters?
“We need to run against the Democrats for stopping the Trump agenda”

In my column last week, I noted that current public opinion data and recent election results point to a likely Democratic takeover of the House in the fall.

Some argue President Donald Trump’s unpopularity is already baked into the election cake, leaving Republicans little room to maneuver. But if you are a GOP strategist or ally of the president, you still need to formulate a plan to improve your party’s prospects and even look toward 2020.

Podcast: What Defines a Political Wave in the House?
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 6

With President Donald Trump’s mediocre job ratings, Democrats’ advantage on the national generic ballot and success in special elections in Pennsylvania, Alabama and elsewhere, there’s plenty of talk about a political wave. In this week’s Decoder, Roll Call elections analyst Nathan Gonzales, sitting in for David Hawkings, talks with Roll Call columnist Stuart Rothenberg about how many seats it takes to make a wave and which Republicans might survive.

Show Notes:

Insiders See Democratic House Gains of 30-45 seats
Polling, election results, fundraising tend to point in one direction

Seven and a half months before the midterm elections, the combination of attitudinal and behavioral evidence leads to a single conclusion: The Democrats are very likely to win control of the House in November.

Just as important, Republican and Democratic campaign strategists also agree that an electoral wave has already formed. The attitudinal evidence begins with national polling.

Pennsylvania 18: A Red Flag for the GOP
The margins in a strong GOP district signal November worries for Republicans

The results in the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District confirm problems for Republicans.

The size of the Democratic general election wave is still unclear, but something is happening. Districts won comfortably by President Donald Trump in 2016 are more competitive now, which suggests that districts won by Hillary Clinton are likely to go Democratic in the midterms.

Analysis: Why the Gun Issue Has Shifted (It’s Not What You Think)
When courting swing voters, gun rights crowd is less part of the equation

The gun debate has shifted dramatically. Suddenly, it looks as if the issue will benefit Democrats in November, not Republicans.

The reason for the shift doesn’t rest primarily on the intelligence and commitment of the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, although many of them have been articulate and persuasive.

Analysis: Will the Suburbs Flip the House? Watch These Seats
If Trump keeps bleeding suburban support, GOP House majority could be at risk

If elections and national surveys over the past year have shown us anything, it is that suburban voters could well be the key to the 2018 midterm House elections.

Turnout among minority voters and younger voters could affect the result in a district here or there, but an increase in suburban turnout or a substantial shift by suburban voters (especially suburban women) from the Republicans to the Democrats could have a much broader impact on the fight for control of the House.

Analysis: Running Against Pelosi May Not Save the GOP This Year
Tried-and-true strategy unlikely to move the needle much in November

It is no secret that the Republican strategy to keep the House in 2018 includes running against Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Both the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC have run television ads during special elections this cycle linking Democratic nominees to Pelosi, and GOP strategists are gleeful when they talk about the Democratic leader’s baggage and their intention to use her in their TV ads.

Podcast: It’s the Economy Stupid? Maybe Not​
Political Theater, Episode 6

Roll Call Political analyst Stu Rothenberg explains why GOP gains in a generic ballot represent just a part of the overall political picture and political reporter Bridget Bowman previews Arizona's upcoming special election.

Show Notes:

Analysis: The Generic Is Falling! The Generic Is Falling!
A deeper look at polling shows a fairly consistent Democratic advantage

I hear it all the time these days. The Democratic electoral wave is petering out. The generic ballot shows the Democrats’ advantage is cratering. President Donald Trump’s job approval ratings are up. Voters are giving the president more and more credit for the economy’s strength. Lighten up, political junkies, the election is not until November. Today’s generic may not be tomorrow’s.

Moreover, the Democrats remain well-positioned to benefit from an electoral wave. This column focuses on the generic ballot, as reported and averaged by RealClearPolitics.

Analysis: The GOP Catch-22 — Donald Trump
Republicans in Congress are in a no-win situation with the president

Even if you think Republican leaders in Congress have shown no spine in responding to President Donald Trump’s more outrageous and inappropriate comments, you ought to be willing to acknowledge that GOP legislators are caught in a no-win situation.

It’s always tempting to tell incumbents of an unpopular president’s party to criticize their own party leader as a way to survive a midterm wave. But that strategy rarely works in competitive congressional districts when the political environment is as bad as it is for Republicans today.

Analysis: The Stunning ‘Role of Government’ Numbers
Trump years have been marked by more preference for government action

While most people seem fascinated by shifts in presidential job approval and national ballot tests, I’ve always thought that the “role of government” question asked in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

The responses to that question offer interesting insights into how voters see government, which, in turn, affects how they view the two parties and how they behave when the next election rolls around.

Analysis: Watch the Polls, Ignore the Post-Shutdown Chatter
Shutdown was more about hype than a political realignment

Over the past few weeks, members of Congress, journalists and television hosts agreed on one thing: The looming government shutdown was a huge deal. Then, after the shutdown ended, those same people pontificated about who won and who lost, as well as about liberal dissatisfaction with the deal to open the government. Here is my advice: ignore most or all of this chatter.

Instead, focus on two new national polls, one from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, and the other from The Washington Post and ABC News.

Analysis: It’s a Blue House Wave, but Not Yet a Senate One
Rural, Trump-friendly states make for a formidable map for Democrats

“The odds are greater than half we will take back the Senate.” — Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” on Monday night 

Democrats ought to temper their optimism about the fight for the Senate this year.

The Democrats’ Savior
Donald Trump gave Democrats what they could not give themselves: unity

One year ago, as Donald Trump was preparing to take the oath of office, Democrats were in disarray. Supporters of 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders were pointing fingers at each other, the Democratic National Committee was in disgrace, and Democratic voters were demoralized.

Now, Trump has succeeded in doing something extraordinary, something neither Clinton nor House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi could do — he has united and energized Democrats.

House Seats You Think Can’t Flip but Might
Political wave elections create their own race dynamics

Responses to the “generic ballot” poll question suggest a partisan electoral wave is building. But the fight for control of the House isn’t a single national election. It will be fought district by district, and national Democrats face challenges on the ground even with the generic ballot favoring them.

In Michigan, according to America Votes 2007-2008, the statewide congressional vote shifted noticeably from 2004 to 2006 — from 49 percent Republican and 48 percent Democratic to 53 percent Democratic and 44 percent Republican — but that popular vote surge for the Democrats didn’t translate to a shift of even a single House seat.

Clinton Starts with a Decisive Advantage
Working-class whites aren't enough to carry Trump to victory

The warnings about jumping to conclusions about November are widespread.

I’ve heard that it’s early in the presidential race and that we underestimated Donald Trump last time so we should be careful now. I’ve also heard that Trump’s strength with working-class whites could change the electoral map, giving him a path to an Electoral College win.