President Joe Biden’s approval ratings are still dropping — and the effects of that plunge are reverberating across the House map.
A new internal GOP poll found Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) locked in a tight race with her Republican challenger in her Lansing-based battleground, with the president’s approval underwater by 26 points. It’s just one survey, paid for by the Republican nominee, state Sen. Tom Barrett, and the National Republican Congressional Committee — but it’s emblematic of a larger problem for House Democrats in what appears to be a foreboding midterm environment.
A spate of recent GOP polling has shown Biden’s ratings dipping to new lows in districts that he carried just two years ago.
After redistricting, Biden would have narrowly carried Slotkin’s district in 2020 by less than 1 point. The survey, conducted in mid-June by the GOP polling outfit Cygnal, found that nearly 63 percent disapprove of Biden’s tenure, while only 36 percent approve.
The generic ballot is also a warning sign for Democrats. Voters favored a GOP candidate over a Democratic candidate by 11 points, 50 percent to 39 percent.
Slotkin performed better, though not better enough to take the lead: In a head-to-head matchup in the survey, she received 44 percent of the vote to Barrett’s 46 percent. Barrett, an Army veteran, was elected to the Michigan House in 2014. He jumped up to the state Senate in 2018.
Slotkin, who previously worked at the Department of Defense and the CIA, came to Congress during the 2018 Democratic wave, ousting Rep. Mike Bishop in a seat that Donald Trump carried by 7 points four years earlier. She won reelection in 2020 by 4 points, beating an underfunded challenger with 51 percent of the vote.
She is a prolific fundraiser and had over $5.5 million banked at the end of March. Barrett had nearly $400,000 in cash on hand.
The fact that Barrett's poll found him in a close race with Slotkin — his advantage is within the margin of error — is notable because the incumbent has significant name ID from two battleground runs. Barrett, though a state legislator, has a much smaller profile.
The poll was conducted via live caller and SMS on behalf of Barrett and the NRCC from June 14-16. The sample size was 400 likely voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.
Slotkin has emerged as a critic of her party since her 2018 run. She was one of several Democrats to vote against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's initial return to the speakership. She is also one of a group of endangered House Democrats who have leaned heavily on a national security background to pick up swing voters.
She will also have a massive cash advantage with which to advertise against Barrett throughout the summer and fall. The survey is only a snapshot in time, but it indicates that Democrats are entering a bleak midterm environment with limited time to turn their prospects around.
The president’s party typically loses ground two years after their election, and Democrats are bracing for a tough midterm cycle. Republicans, meanwhile, are hoping to capitalize on Biden’s unpopularity by contesting seats that he carried by large margins 2020.