A Republican defeat for the Democrats in this year’s midterm elections looked entirely possible six months ago. Today, a big GOP win remains plausible but is a shrinking probability.
Democrats, who hold narrow majorities in the US House of Representatives and Senate, have reversed Republicans’ average lead from earlier this year in the general congressional vote to an average 1-point lead for the party in power.
Republicans are hoping that once-in-a-generation high inflation will help them gain control of Congress.
But as we’ll discuss first in our look at last week’s politics, Americans aren’t as concerned about the state of the economy as Republicans might like.
You look at almost every recent poll that asks Americans what their top issue is, and a majority say it’s either the economy or inflation. For example, a Fox News poll last week showed that more voters were concerned about inflation than any other issue.
However, an examination of historical data shows that the percentage of Americans who currently say economic issues are the most important issue is about average in elections since 1988.
Each month, Gallup releases data on what Americans say is the country’s most pressing issue. It is an open-ended question (ie respondents can say whatever they want) and they are allowed to give more than one answer.
In August, 37% of adults said an economic issue was the most important. Not a single non-economic issue came even close to the top. The government/poor leadership category was the closest at 20%. Since March, between 35% and 40% of Americans have identified some type of economic problem (e.g., inflation) as their top concern.
Of course, I was raised to believe that elections are about “the stupid economy.” So I wanted to see how this year’s results compare to how Americans felt before previous elections. I had Gallup pull for me the dates closest to Election Day for every election they could. They gave me half-year and presidential year data going back to 1988 for their survey.
What amazed me was that an average of 39% said an economic issue was the most important. That said, the economy is no more of an issue this year than it has been in any year since 1988, despite the current high level of inflation.
What the current polls are showing isn’t what we saw in 2008, 2010, or 2012, when 68% or more of Americans named an economic issue as the most important. And although Gallup didn’t provide me with the data, polls prior to the midterms of 1982 showed that more than 70% of Americans chose an economic problem as their top concern. 1982 is an important year historically because it was the last time inflation rates were anywhere near what they are today.
In fact, this year’s Gallup data revealed that a total of 66% of Americans said the top problem was noneconomic. Even if no individual issue came close to economics, overall, non-economic issues far outweighed economic concerns.
If this election was all about the economy, the GOP would crush it. A summer CNN/SSRS poll showed Republicans winning by over 30 points in the general vote among voters who said they wanted congressional candidates to talk the most about the economy or inflation . But Gallup polling data shows that this year’s election isn’t just about the state of the economy on voters’ minds.
Democrats had a more than 30-point lead in the CNN poll among those who chose something other than economics as what congressional candidates should talk about the most.
This is good news for Democrats.
It’s possible that economic concerns will surface in the final weeks leading up to Election Day. With each passing day, an election that many of us thought was mostly about the economy seems like there’s a lot more at stake.
A big reason the 2022 election appears to be about something other than economics is the June decision by the US Supreme Court, Roe v. pick up calf. This marked a turning point in the national political environment (in favor of the Democrats).
The abolition of federal abortion rights also spurred a movement to codify same-marriage into federal law — in large part due to the wording in a consensus opinion of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who specifically called for the court’s 2015 ruling to be reconsidered, which legalized the same. sex marriage nationwide.
Make no mistake: reversing that 2015 decision would be extremely unpopular with the American public. On the other hand, recent efforts by Congress to pass legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage at the federal level are popular.
A Quinnipiac University poll conducted in late August found that 71% of Americans supported the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states. This included nearly half (45%) of Republican voters, 77% of independents, and 89% of Democrats.
From some perspective, more Americans supported the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage than did Roe v. Wade before it was picked up. (That percentage was generally in the mid-1960s.)
Opinions on same-sex marriage in the US have changed dramatically over the past 26 years. In 1996, 27% of Americans believed same-sex marriage should be legal in the country. Gallup noted that percentage was 71% earlier this year.
Of course, just because you want something legal doesn’t mean you want it codified into federal law. There are many Americans who oppose abortion but do not support federal bans.
However, polls show that a majority of Americans want Congress to codify same-sex marriage at the federal level. My average of the polls shows that about 55% of Americans do, while about 30% oppose it.
That would explain why Congress seems poised to do just that. A bill that would legalize same-sex marriage has already passed Parliament. The Senate has delayed voting on the same-sex marriage legislation until after the midterms, although passage there is also likely.
It would mark quite a turning point since the mid-1990s when Congress passed what became known as the Defense of Marriage Act, which for federal purposes defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman and allowed states to not recognize same-sex marriages from others States granted.
Google searches for Indiana Jones hit a nearly four-year high last week with the release of the first preview of the fifth installment in the Indiana Jones franchise.
As I noted on air, the franchise is unique in that it has spanned decades and is a top performer in terms of both box office and critical acclaim.
Perhaps my favorite fact about Indiana Jones, however, comes from a survey. A few years ago, a CBS News/Vanity Fair poll asked Americans what movie character they would like to be if they could live in a movie for a day.
The top pick was Indiana Jones with 25%. He beat Ferris Bueller by 14%, Carrie Bradshaw (from “Sex in the City”) by 12% and Don Corleone (from “The Godfather”) by 11%.
My only question is, what kind of person would admit to wanting to be a gangster for a day?
Queen Elizabeth II historic electoral performance: Gallup recalls that from 1948 to 2020, the late monarch appeared on her list of most admired women 52 times. No one else has been on the list more than 34 times (Margaret Thatcher).
Most Americans don’t bet on sports: As more states legalize sports betting, the Pew Research Center finds that only 19% of Americans have wagered on sports in the past year. This was most likely to happen privately among friends and family (15%).
The majority of Americans may not be Christian by 2070: Pew also estimates, based on current trends, that by 2070 less than 50% of Americans will identify as Christian. As of 2020, an estimated 64% of all Americans (adults and children) were Christian.