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In One Chart: Midterm elections: Republican edge over Democrats erodes in this one key indicator

Here’s another sign of improving Democratic prospects as November’s midterm elections get closer: The Republican Party’s edge in the generic ballot has basically evaporated.

The generic ballot refers to a poll question that asks voters which party they would support in a congressional election without naming individual candidates. Analysts tend to see it as a useful indicator.

Republicans now score 44.2% support in a RealClearPolitics average of generic ballots, with Democrats just a bit behind at 44.0%.

On Aug. 16 through Aug. 18, Democrats had the lead with 44.1% vs. the GOP’s 43.9%, according to RCP’s data.

The tightness is a big change from the prior eight months, when Republicans for the most part enjoyed a sizable edge in the generic ballot, as shown in the chart below.

Democrats appear to be getting a lift from several developments. For starters, gasoline prices

have declined from recent highs, even as prices for other essentials remain elevated and Americans are still worried about rampant inflation.

The GOP also has some candidates who are struggling in their campaigns. The top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, conceded last week that “candidate quality” may mean his party will fail to flip that chamber.

In addition, voters that support abortion rights and therefore lean Democratic seem more eager to turn out in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in June that overturned Roe v. Wade.

Also see: Democrat Pat Ryan overcomes polling gap to win ‘bellwether’ special election in New York state for U.S. House seat

“We’ve seen an uptick in Democratic numbers over the past six weeks,” said Jessica Taylor, Senate and governors editor at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, during a panel discussion on Tuesday hosted by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a think tank.

“They’ve had legislative successes with the inflation bill, and other climate provisions thrown in there with that bill,” she said, referring to Democrats’ big healthcare, climate and tax package.

“But I think particularly the Dobbs decision that sent Roe back to the states … has really energized the Democratic base. When I talk to Republican strategists, they know that they’re sort of frittering away this really good opportunity.”

Related: This House seat may flip red for the first time in almost a century and indicate whether Republicans have ‘had a really good night’

The additional chart below shows how betting markets see Democrats keeping their grip on the Senate but losing control of the House.

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