The economy and inflation are the dominant issues three weeks ahead of midterm congressional elections that will challenge Democrats’ chances of retaining control of Congress, according to a series of new polls released in recent days.
Widespread impressions of the bad and deteriorating economy, combined with dissatisfaction with President Joe Biden and the way things are going in the country, suggest that the nation’s overall political mood — that for Democrats after the Overthrow of Roe by the Supreme Court was somewhat more favorable v. Wade – could be leaning more in favor of the Republicans.
A CBS News/YouGov poll released Sunday found that 65% of voters think the economy is deteriorating and 68% say the Biden administration could do more to fight inflation. In a New York Times and Siena College poll released Monday, 64% of likely voters say the United States is going in the wrong direction, with the economy (26%) and inflation (18%) the only issues who are named in double-digit proportions are more likely voters as the most important issue facing the country today, with all other issues at 8% or less. And according to an AP-NORC poll released Monday, 70% of registered voters say they are unhappy with the way things are going in the US today, including majorities across party lines.
The Times/Siena poll finds Republican congressional candidates 45% among likely voters, with 49% support for Democrats, a split that is within the poll’s sampling error limit. In the CBS/YouGov poll, likely voter preferences range from 47% for Republicans to 45% for Democrats, also within the poll’s margin of error.
A new average from CNN Poll of Polls shows an even gap in general election polls, with both Democratic and Republican candidates supporting 46% of voters in the new Poll of Polls, compared to a narrow 3-point tilt with the Democrats on average just late September.
Three of the five polls included on average report results among likely voters. A fourth from Fox News, which showed Democrats at 44% versus 41% Republicans among registered voters, finds a 47% Republican-46% Democrat split among those who say they’re sure they’ll vote this fall .
A narrow gap in generic voting preferences often signals Republican gains in the House of Representatives. By and large, voter preferences for partisan candidates do not always translate directly to a similar result in House seat share. In some recent elections, Republicans have won a larger share of seats than their share of the statewide popular vote, due in part to a redistribution of constituencies.
Recent polls suggest that a widespread focus on the economy has stalled the Democratic momentum gained after Supreme Court Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling that ended federal protections for abortion rights. A CNN poll released last week found that 9 in 10 registered voters said the economy was important to their vote, while 72% said abortion was that important. Those registered voters who consider the economy to be extremely important to their vote drop significantly in favor of Republicans in their constituencies, 53% to 38%.
The same poll showed that 48% of likely voters in contested congressional districts supported the Republican candidate who will ultimately decide control of the House of Representatives, while 43% in that group supported the Democrat. Registered voters in these districts were more likely than those nationwide to consider economic concerns to be critical to their voting decisions, and these voters are even more opposed to the Republican candidate (56% versus 30%).
Over the course of this year, momentum in the House race has shifted from a clear GOP advantage to an environment where Democrats appeared more competitive, and it now appears to be tilting back toward Republicans. The statewide draw in the current poll average is weaker for Republicans than polls before the Dobbs decision suggested. Earlier this year, high-quality polls showed the GOP to be a substantial margin over Democrats on a general election question. Democrats narrowed that gap sharply over the summer, culminating in a narrow numerical advantage on average and in most polls on the general ballot. But only one poll that met CNN’s standards for reporting on the period showed Democrats had a significant lead among voters. None of the polls included in the current average show a clear leader between the two parties in the race for control of the House of Representatives.
The CNN poll is an average of five most recent nonpartisan, national polls of either registered or likely voters of overall voting preference in their constituencies, which meet CNN’s standards. The polls include results from the NPR/Marist poll conducted Sept. 27-29, the CNN poll conducted Sept. 3-October 5, the CBS News/YouGov poll conducted Oct ., the Fox News poll, conducted October 9-12, and the New York Times/Siena College poll, conducted October 9-12.