Stuart Rothenberg

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.

Ryan Rides to the Rescue — But Not Until 2020
If GOP loses big in November, House speaker becomes de facto party leader

I recently asked a veteran Republican strategist how his party picks up the pieces after what now looks to be a very difficult 2016 election. His answer was quick and decisive: Paul Ryan.

If November’s elections are as messy for the GOP as they now appear, with Republicans failing once again to win the White House and also losing their Senate majority, Ryan would almost certainly become his party’s de facto leader – and that would offer him both opportunities and challenges after the election.

Dem Senate Takeover Probable, If Cruz or Trump Nominee

With Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz seemingly positioned to fight it out for the Republican presidential nomination, Democrats are now poised to take over the Senate in November.  

The two Republicans still in the race who could help their party’s Senate prospects, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, continue to flounder. While a deadlocked GOP convention in Cleveland could, at least in theory, nominate a candidate with broad appeal and low enough negatives to revive the party’s Senate prospects, that development is both a long way in the future and a long shot.  

Cruz and Kasich Implausible Scenarios Keeping Trump on Top

The early primaries usually winnow presidential fields because each one tests aspects of a candidacy, and because only victories keep the money flowing.

But while this Republican field has winnowed, it hasn’t shrunk as much as some would like. Part of the answer involves the existence of super PAC money, which allows a handful of contributors to keep a candidacy alive. But maybe even more important this time is the shape of the field and the nature of the front-runner.  

Cruz and Kasich Implausible Scenarios Keeping Trump on Top

The early primaries usually winnow presidential fields because each one tests aspects of a candidacy, and because only victories keep the money flowing.

But while this Republican field has winnowed, it hasn’t shrunk as much as some would like. Part of the answer involves the existence of super PAC money, which allows a handful of contributors to keep a candidacy alive. But maybe even more important this time is the shape of the field and the nature of the front-runner.

Trump Is More Vulnerable Than You Think

Most in the national news media are talking about how Donald Trump is now the clear Republican frontrunner and will be nearly impossible to stop. They are only partially right.  

Trump, who won South Carolina (and all of its delegates) with a little under one-third of the vote, certainly is the front-runner. He has won two of the first three contests and has a clear lead in delegates. He should do well on March 1, when many Southern states hold their primaries and more than 600 delegates are at stake. By definition, that makes him the front-runner.  

Trump Is More Vulnerable Than You Think

Most in the national news media are talking about how Donald Trump is now the clear Republican frontrunner and will be nearly impossible to stop. They are only partially right.

Trump, who won South Carolina (and all of its delegates) with a little under one-third of the vote, certainly is the front-runner. He has won two of the first three contests and has a clear lead in delegates. He should do well on March 1, when many Southern states hold their primaries and more than 600 delegates are at stake. By definition, that makes him the front-runner.

Who Will Win S.C. Saturday? Just Look at the Voters

What will South Carolina Republican presidential primary voters do when they go to the polls on Saturday? The best way to approach that question is to compare the Palmetto State’s GOP primary voters to those who turned out this month for the first two Republican contests.  

By most measures, South Carolina Republican voters are likely to look much more like those who participated in Iowa than in New Hampshire.  

Who Will Win S.C. Saturday? Just Look at the Voters

What will South Carolina Republican presidential primary voters do when they go to the polls on Saturday? The best way to approach that question is to compare the Palmetto State’s GOP primary voters to those who turned out this month for the first two Republican contests.

By most measures, South Carolina Republican voters are likely to look much more like those who participated in Iowa than in New Hampshire.

Michael Bloomberg’s Road Map to the White House

You are the eighth-richest person in America with a net worth of more than $38 billion, according to Forbes magazine. You served three terms as mayor of New York. You’ve been a Democrat, a Republican and an independent. And you believe that the country has suffered from political polarization and needs a strong president who can get things done and bring the country together.  

You are Michael Bloomberg, and you want to be president. Can you make it happen, even assuming the “best case” scenario of Democrats nominating Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders and the GOP picking either Donald Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz?  

Michael Bloomberg’s Road Map to the White House

You are the eighth-richest person in America with a net worth of more than $38 billion, according to Forbes magazine. You served three terms as mayor of New York. You’ve been a Democrat, a Republican and an independent. And you believe that the country has suffered from political polarization and needs a strong president who can get things done and bring the country together.

You are Michael Bloomberg, and you want to be president. Can you make it happen, even assuming the “best case” scenario of Democrats nominating Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders and the GOP picking either Donald Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz?

Can Rubio Follow Romney’s Path to the Nomination?

Is Marco Rubio a conservative who wants to overthrow the GOP establishment or a potential standard-bearer for party pragmatists?  He’s trying to be both, of course.  

That strategy has been tried before – by Mitt Romney. And it worked, sort of. The question now, after Rubio's debate performance on Saturday night, is whether Rubio can pull it off.  

Can Rubio Follow Romney’s Path to the Nomination?

Is Marco Rubio a conservative who wants to overthrow the GOP establishment or a potential standard-bearer for party pragmatists? He’s trying to be both, of course.

That strategy has been tried before – by Mitt Romney. And it worked, sort of. The question now, after Rubio’s debate performance on Saturday night, is whether Rubio can pull it off.

What the Hell Happened to Jeb Bush?

It must be more than a decade ago when I got a glimpse of the man often referred to as “George W. Bush’s smarter, younger brother.”  

Charlie Cook and I were scheduled to speak to a group of Florida business leaders during lunch, but before we began our shtick, the state’s sitting governor, Jeb Bush, was to offer some remarks.  

Revenge of the Old Fogies

While the decision makers at news organizations from the Public Broadcasting System to CNN and the three major networks scramble to appeal to younger viewers, often by skewing younger with their hosts and commentators, Republican and Democratic voters in Iowa and nationally have embraced a remarkably “mature” handful of top tier candidates.  

And by “mature,” I really mean old.