William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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POLITICAL SIGNS.  As readers know, we read all polls and follow some.  The one we follow most is Rasmussen, because that organization polls more than any other.  It gives us a daily look at presidential approval, and a weekly picture on where we stand with the generic congressional ballot.

Something interesting happened with Rasmussen's polling this week.  The generic, answering the approximate question, "Would you rather vote for a Republican or a Democrat for Congress?" showed a three-point increase for the Republican side over the previous week's report.  Rasmussen now has the generic at 44 percent for Republicans, 41 percent for the Democrats.  

A three-point jump is substantial, especially in a disciplined poll where numbers normally don't jump back and forth.  The jump tends to confirm the general polling consensus that Republicans are gaining back the edge they held earlier this year.  It's also being widely reported that morale in the Democratic Party is slipping.

Caution:  As we always say, polls are snapshots in time.  The election is four and a half weeks away.  Things can change, even several times.  And the polls can be inaccurate.  We've never had polling following a major pandemic before.  We don't know the psychological effect of the last two years.  And an October surprise, say, a new charge against Donald Trump, or an American military action in Ukraine, can muddle the landscape.  So what we say now can turn out to be nonsense.

Another point:  We shouldn't accept the temptation to depend only on the cable news networks.  It's an easy thing to do.  They're on 24 hours a day, and you can click to them any time.  But most Americans don't realize how shockingly small their viewership is.  Even Fox News has an average audience of 2.1 million people, in a nation of 332 million.  Don't assume the whole country is seeing what you're seeing.  They are not.

As we get into the final campaign weeks, we'll have many more numbers to crunch, and many more trends to watch.  We may occasionally be right.

October 7-8, 2022