The Generic Ballot – What To Know, Why It’s So Important

There has been some very big news regarding the so-called “generic ballot” recently. I’ll share that news in just a moment. But what has surprised me the most recently is how few adults even know what the generic ballot is, much less how to follow it on a regular or even occasional basis and why it is so important.

This surprises me because the generic ballot is one of the most predictive and accurate polls out there when it comes to congressional and presidential elections.

Given the impressive forecasting record of the generic ballot, it is something all likely voters, Democrat, Republican and Independent, should know about and understand. Given that, the generic ballot is where we will start our discussion today. I realize many of my readers already know about the generic ballot, so bear with me, but I was quite surprised at how many relatives, friends and colleagues did not know what it was or how to follow it.

So, what is the generic ballot? The generic ballot is a political poll which asks not which candidate you plan to vote for to represent you in Congress or for president, but rather which political party (Democrat, Republican or Independent) you would vote for if the election were held today.

It’s called the “generic ballot” precisely because it includes no specific names of candidates. The generic ballot is a voter survey conducted by various polling groups including Gallup, Rasmussen, RealClearPolitics and numerous others.

Now, here’s the latest big news on the generic ballot. Over the last couple of weeks, the Republicans have risen to a historic lead in the generic ballot. The GOP now holds an unprecedented 10-point lead in the latest generic ballot. This is the largest lead the Republicans have held since the generic ballot began over 40 years ago.

Rasmussen’s generic ballot poll earlier this month has the GOP up a whopping 13 points, by far the highest reading it has ever recorded for the Republicans.

Such a commanding lead less than one year from the elections suggests – if the current lead holds up – the GOP will retake the majority in both the House and the Senate by a comfortable margin next November. Based on the highly predictive nature of the generic ballot, it’s the Republicans' race to lose at this point.