With some caveats, the generic ballot test gives us an idea where the congressional midterm elections could be headed, Winston writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
For many in the political community, the generic ballot test, a standardized question in most national polls, has become the electoral equivalent of the canary in the coal mine — a harbinger of things to come in November. It’s an important tool to gauge how each party is doing at any given point in time, as it gives us a fairly good, though not infallible, idea of which party is heading to the polls with the wind at its back.
This election cycle, there has been even more focus than usual on the generic ballot, with months of grim numbers for Republicans until recently, when national polls have shown a more positive trend for the GOP.