CNN Poll: Republicans, Buoyed by Enthusiasm and Economic Concerns, Have Narrow Lead Ahead of Next Week’s Congressional Elections

CNN Poll: Republicans, Buoyed by Enthusiasm and Economic Concerns, Have Narrow Lead Ahead of Next Week’s Congressional Elections


An enthusiast Republican base and continued concerns about the state of the economy put the GOP in a strong position with about a week to go races for control of the House of Representatives of the US Congress, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS.

A new survey released Wednesday shows that Democrats’ enthusiasm for voting is significantly lower than it was in 2018, when the Democratic Party took control of the House. Republican voters are expressing more in a new poll engagement with this year’s midterm elections from Democrats in more questions that gauge the likelihood of voting.

Overall, 27% of registered voters say they are extremely enthusiastic about voting this year, down from 37% just ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, with the decline in enthusiasm coming almost entirely among Democrats. Four years ago, 44% of Democratic registered voters said they were extremely enthusiastic about voting; now only 24% say the same. Among Republicans, that number fell slightly, from 43% to 38%.

Although overall voting enthusiasm is lower now than it was in October 2010, the Republican enthusiasm lead is now similar to the party gap found in CNN polls then, ahead of the GOP’s very strong midterm performance. Then, as now, Republican voters were 14 points more likely to say they were extremely enthusiastic about voting in the midterms (31% of Republican voters were extremely enthusiastic vs. 17% of Democratic voters).

In a new poll, Republicans topped Democrats in a generic ballot question asking voters which party of candidates they would support in their House district 51% to 47% among likely voters, narrowly outside the poll’s margin of sampling error. Among registered voters, the race is about even, with 47% behind Republicans and 46% behind Democrats. Closely divided generic ballot numbers often translated into Republican gains in the House.

The position of Republicans in the race for the House of Representatives this year has been strengthened by widespread concern about the state of the state economy of the nation. The economy and inflation are far and away the top issue for likely voters in this latest stretch, with about half of all likely voters (51%) saying it will be a key issue that will determine their vote for Congress this year. Abortion, the second-ranked issue, is the top concern for 15% of likely voters. Other tested questions were chosen by less than 10% of possible voters, including The right to vote and electoral integrity (9%), gun policy (7%), immigration (6%), climate change (4%), and crime (3%).

Republican and independent voters are mostly focused on the economy, with 71% of Republicans and 53% of independents citing it as a top issue in their vote. Likely Democratic voters are more divided, with the economy and abortion leading the way for nearly equal shares – 29% say abortion, 27% the economy and inflation.

Those likely voters who say the economy is their top concern overwhelmingly favor Republicans in their House districts, 71% to 26%. By an even larger margin, they say they have more confidence in the GOP to handle the economy and inflation (71% of Republicans vs. 18% of Democrats).

The poll showed a widespread and widespread perception that the economy is already in recession, with a large majority also saying that things in the country are generally not going well.

Overall, 75% of Americans say the economy is doing well recession, compared to 64% who felt that way this summer. Majorities across party lines see the economy as already in recession, including 91% of Republicans, 74% of independents and 61% of Democrats. A majority overall (55%) say they are dissatisfied with their personal financial situation, compared to 47% who felt that way this spring. A majority of Republicans (57%) and independents (62%) express dissatisfaction with their finances, while Democrats are more likely to be satisfied (55% satisfied, 45% dissatisfied).

Nearly three-quarters of Americans (74%, including 72% of likely voters) say things are going badly in the country today. That’s a slight improvement from this summer, when 79% of all adults rated things as bad, but it’s similar to how Americans felt about the state of the country just before the 2010 midterm elections (75% said things were going bad) and significantly worse since just before Election Day 2018 (44% said things were going badly in early November). The last time a majority of Americans said things were going well in the US was January 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Amid this growing economic weakness and stagnant negativity about the nation, President Joe Biden approval ratings also fell in the new poll. Overall, 41% of adults say they approve of the president’s performance, down from 44% in the latest CNN poll, though still ahead of this summer’s low point. Among likely voters, Biden’s approval rating is 42%, about the same as Donald Trump among likely voters in 2018 (41% approval) and Barack Obama in 2010 (43% approval).

The new CNN poll was conducted Oct. 26-31 by SSRS among a random national sample of 1,508 adults using a probability-based panel sample, including 1,290 registered voters and 992 likely voters. Surveys were conducted online or by telephone with a live interviewer. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points; it is 3.4 points among registered voters and 3.8 among likely voters. Likely voters are identified through a series of questions about their intent, interest and past voting history.

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