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Poll: Trump's approval evens out; GOP takes slight lead in generic ballot

On Wednesday, Politico and Morning Consult released the results of a new poll that brings good news for President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress. After months of standing in negative territory, President Trump's approval rating has evened out, and the GOP has taken a slight lead in the generic ballot, according to the poll.

The poll of registered voters shows a 47-47 percent split of voters on the question of Trump's approval. On the generic ballot, Republicans slightly edge Democrats at 39-38 percent. The best news for Republicans in the poll is the increase in perceptions of who can best handle one of the most important issues facing Americans: the economy.

“Not only have Republicans increased support on the generic congressional ballot, they are now trusted more to handle the most important issue when voters head to the polls: the economy,” said Kyle Dropp, Morning Consult’s co-founder and chief research officer. “In mid-December, 39 percent of voters said they trusted Democrats more to handle the economy, compared to 38 percent who said Republicans. Today, 43 percent say Republicans and 32 percent say Democrats."

Congressional Republicans also have a 9-point advantage on handling jobs, a 6-point lead on dealing with immigration and a 19-point lead on handling national security. The Democratic advantage on health care has dwindled to just 4 percentage points, down from double digits last year.

There are some important points to remember on this new poll. First, it is a snapshot in time, only one poll out of many. The Real Clear Politics polling average still shows President Trump with an average approval rating of 41.3 percent as of this morning; that is down from a recent high of 42.4 percent on February 4, 2018. The RCP polling average on the generic congressional ballot shows a 6.5 percent average lead for Democrats, which is down from the 13 percent average lead at the end of 2017.

Second, we are a little under nine months away from the election. That's an eternity in politics. While the polling may be improving for Republicans, in the wake of people seeing increases in their take-home pay due to the tax cuts, there is a whole lot that can happen between now and the election.

Historical trends are not on the side of the Republicans. According to NBC News, "In every midterm election since the Civil War, the president's party has lost, on average, 32 seats in the House and two in the Senate." As NBC further notes, only 24 seats are needed to flip control of the House, and the Senate has an even slighter two-seat margin.  A plus on the GOP side is that Democrats are defending significantly more seats than the GOP in 2018.

If you score elections as red team vs. blue team affairs, these recent numbers are promising for team red. But here's a bit of caution. Team red should remember that the reason they are seeing a bump is most likely from enacting conservative, broad-based tax cuts. Since then, the GOP has lined up to, as LevinTV host Mark Levin said on his radio program, spend "like drunken Marxists."

This recent poll is an encouraging sign for President Trump and his party. But the average numbers and history are still strong headwinds that team red must overcome.

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