The Democrats' all-out attack on Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, which culminated in a blisteringly partisan hearing last Thursday, may have backfired on the party just before the November elections.
The latest IBD/TIPP poll finds that President Donald Trump's approval ratings made a strong rebound this month, with a four-point gain to 40%, reversing almost the entire loss he suffered the month before. His disapproval rating went from 56% last month to 54% now.
What's more, the Democrats' advantage on the generic ballot question plunged from 11 points last month to just 2 points this month.
"The Kavanaugh hearings galvanized Republicans who saw the proceedings as a ploy by the Democrats to slow the nomination process," said Raghavan Mayur, President of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, which conducts the IBD/TIPP Poll. "What's more, many Republicans thought that Kavanaugh's reputation was being maligned by the Democratic Senators."
A driving force behind Trump's approval rating jump was the fact that Republican support came roaring back. The October IBD/TIPP Poll shows that 84% of Republicans say they approve of the job Trump is doing. That's an eight-point jump from last month's 76%. Trump's support among independents and Democrats remained steady at 33% and 5%, respectively.
Regionally, Trump's biggest gain came from rural Americans, where his approval rating climbed to 59% this month, compared with 45% last month.
He also made gains among those with a high school education, 54% of whom back him now, compared with 42% last month. And among those at the lower end of the income spectrum, with his approval climbing 13 points to 38% among adults with annual household incomes below $30,000.
Perhaps also reflecting the fallout from the Kavanaugh drama, Trump's support among men jumped 9 points to 49%.
Trump's net favorability improved somewhat this month as well, although it's still well in negative territory. It went from -19 last month (36% favorable, 55% unfavorable), to -16 (38% favorable, 54% unfavorable).
The broader IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index shows Trump gaining almost 7% to 43.1. That's higher than his 41.3 average for this index — which includes questions regarding leadership, favorability and approval — since he took office.
Approval Rating Boost From Economy
Another factor in Trump's approval rating gain is the strong economy.
The poll found that 46% approve of Trump's handling of the economy, up a point from last month. And the IBD/TIPP Financial Stress Index dropped 5.7% to 48.4 (a lower number means less stress). That's the second-lowest reading for this index since IBD started tracking it in 2007.
The share of the public that thinks the economy is improving climbed to 56% in October, from 53% last month.
"The economy is firing on all cylinders. Wages are picking up in a tightening labor market. More people who were on the fence are finally starting to give Trump some credit for the booming economy," Mayur said. "Trump's ratings got a boost from the recent trade deal reached between the United States, Mexico, and Canada. He also received positive reviews for his participation in the recent United Nations meeting in New York."
Dems' Midterm Advantage Disappears
Meanwhile, the Democrats' advantage on the "generic ballot" question has all but disappeared. This asks only registered voters whether they'd prefer a Congress controlled by Democrats or Republicans after the midterm elections in November.
The latest poll shows that 45% say they'd prefer Democrats in control, while 43% say they want the GOP to retain control of Congress.
This is a huge swing from last month, which had the Democrats up by 11 points over Republicans (50% to 39%).
Not surprisingly, Republicans have grown more emphatic about keeping control. Support for a GOP Congress among registered Republicans climbed from 86% last month to 92% this month.
But independents shifted toward the GOP as well, with 37% backing a GOP Congress, up from 30% last month. Support among independents for a Democratic Congress dropped from 49% last month to 41% in October.
The IBD/TIPP Poll did find that Democrats have a slight advantage when it comes to enthusiasm about the election. Eighty three percent say they are very or extremely interested in the midterms, compared with 74% for Republicans, and 72% for independents.
Methodology: IBD/TIPP conducted the latest poll from September 27 through October 3. It includes responses from 905 adults nationwide, who were asked questions by live interviewers on phones. The poll's margin of error is +/-3.3 percentage points. The "generic ballot" question includes responses from 846 registered voters. (Toplines from the poll will post here next week.)
The IBD/TIPP Poll has been credited as being the most accurate poll in the past four presidential elections, and was one of only two that correctly predicted the outcome of the November 2016 presidential election.
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