With Republicans needing to win a net of five seats to take control of the House, Democrats face overwhelming odds to prevent that from happening. The poll findings cannot predict the number of seats that could switch hands, only the overall direction of voters’ intentions. Nor does the poll provide a look at the state of Senate races or the GOP’s chances of winning a majority in what is now a 50-50 Democratic-controlled chamber.
One other factor in the GOP’s favor: Republicans continue to be more certain about voting, with 80 percent of Republican-leaning voters saying they are certain to vote or have already done so, slightly higher than 74 percent of Democratic-leaning voters. Certainty to vote among Democrats is eight percentage points lower than in 2018, while holding steady among Republicans.
Voters’ faith in the electoral process reflects doubts sown after the 2020 election, in which the defeated Trump refused to concede to Joe Biden and made unfounded claims of voter fraud before his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. By more than 2 to 1, Americans say they are very or somewhat confident that votes in the midterm elections will be counted accurately, on par with previous years. That includes more than 8 in 10 Democrats and more than 6 in 10 independents. Among Republicans, 55 percent express confidence compared with 45 percent who do not, including 19 percent who say they have no confidence in an accurate count.
Days before the final votes are cast and counted, the survey highlights reasons why Democrats are on the defensive, including that their candidates are burdened by Biden’s low approval ratings. Biden’s approval rating stands at 41 percent, little changed from 39 percent in September, with 53 percent disapproving. Among registered voters, his ratings are 43 percent positive, 53 percent negative.
Just over 8 in 10 Democratic voters give Biden positive ratings. Meanwhile, 9 in 10 Republican voters disapprove of the president’s job performance. Among independents, 39 percent approve of the way Biden is handling his job and 56 percent disapprove. Voters who approve of Biden support Democrats 90 percent to 8 percent, disapprovers support Republicans by 83 percent to 12 percent. On balance, Democratic candidates are outperforming Biden by five points among registered voters.
There is a notable imbalance in the intensity of those assessments of Biden, with 44 percent of voters saying they strongly disapprove of the way the president has handled his job compared with 19 percent who say they strongly approve. Biden’s strong disapproval among independent voters is close to the overall finding at 42 percent.
Abortion rights and threats to democracy animate many Democratic voters in particular and those issues are being used in final messages to stoke turnout as a way to offset the GOP’s overall advantages. Many Democratic candidates have highlighted abortion in their television ads and Biden delivered a speech about threats to democracy on Wednesday evening, hoping to motivate the party’s base.
A similarly big difference shows up based on educational levels, with 57 percent of likely voters without a college degree favoring Republicans and 58 percent of those with degrees supporting Democrats. By more than 2 to 1, White voters without college degrees favor Republicans while a majority of White voters with degrees (55 percent) support Democrats.
But on specific issues, each party’s advantages stand out. Among registered voters, Republicans hold a 14-point advantage on the economy, a 12-point advantage on inflation and rising prices (though that gap has declined since September) and a 20-point advantage on crime. Democrats have a 13-point advantage on abortion and a 19-point advantage on climate change.
On immigration and threats to democracy, the first an issue pushed hard by Republicans and the second highlighted by Democrats, neither party enjoys a clear advantage, though there are big partisan differences on both that are masked by the overall results. The two parties are also about even on trust to handle education and schools, again with large partisan differences.
Republicans have sought to make crime a major issue this year and their advantage on the issue has increased significantly. In the summer of 2021, the two parties were rated equally in terms of which one was more trusted to handle crime. By last spring, the GOP edge had jumped to a double-digit advantage and has increased slightly since then.
When asked which of the eight issues will be one of the single most important in influencing their vote, the economy was cited by 26 percent of likely voters, abortion by 22 percent, inflation and threats to democracy each by 21 percent. The 26 percent of voters who ranked the economy as one of the most important factors in their vote favor Republicans by 44 points. The 22 percent who listed abortion as one of the most important issues back Democrats by 54 points.
Twice as many Republican likely voters than Democratic voters cite the economy as one of the single most important issues in their vote (32 percent vs. 15 percent). On abortion, the pattern was reversed, with 32 percent of Democratic likely voters citing it as one of the single most important issues compared with 12 percent of Republicans. Among independents, 28 percent say the economy is key to their decision, while 20 percent cite abortion.
The impact of inflation is revealed in another question, which asked people to compare their family’s financial situation with that of two years ago. More than 4 in 10 say it is worse, about 4 in 10 say it is the same and not quite 2 in 10 say it is better.
The percentage of adults who say abortion should be legal in all or most cases has increased since the decision, with 66 percent saying it should be legal all or most of the time, the highest in a Post-ABC poll since 1995, when the question was first asked.
But Democrats have yet to unify abortion rights supporters behind their party, with voters who back legal abortion favoring Democrats for Congress by 67 percent to 29 percent, while Republicans receive 88 percent support among voters who say abortion should be illegal. Turnout is also a factor, with opponents of legal abortion nine points more likely to say they are certain to vote or already cast a ballot.
This content was originally published here.