Post-ABC poll: House vote nearly split, GOP has edge on economy and turnout

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Republicans have significant advantages on the bread-and-butter issues of the economy and inflation that are central concerns of this fall’s election and are poised to win a majority in the House of Representatives in Tuesday’s election, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll to claim.

Voter intentions for the House of Representatives are roughly evenly split, with 49 percent of registered voters saying they will vote for the Republican candidate in their district and 48 percent saying they will vote for the Democrat. Likely voters split 50 percent Republican and 48 percent Democrat.

If recent history is any guide, Democrats need clear leadership on this measure to stem Republican gains. Many more Democratic seats are considered toss-ups, according to political handicappers, putting the party at a disadvantage heading into Tuesday. At this point four years ago, coming to power in a rebuke of President Donald Trump in the House of Representatives, Democrats had a seven-point lead over voter intentions. But when Republicans clinched big victories in 2010 and 2014, they had a slightly bigger advantage going into the election than current polls show.

With Republicans having to win a five-seat net to take control of the House of Representatives, Democrats face overwhelming odds of preventing it. The poll results cannot predict the number of seats that might change hands, only the general direction of voters’ intentions. The poll also offers no look at the state of the Senate election or the GOP’s chances of winning a majority in a now Democrat-controlled 50-50 chamber.

Another factor in favor of the GOP: Republicans remain more confident in their election, with 80 percent of Republican-leaning voters saying they will definitely vote or have already voted, compared to just over 74 percent of Democrat-leaning voters. Electoral certainty among Democrats is eight percentage points lower than in 2018, while remaining stable among Republicans.

Read the full post-ABC poll results

The attention gap is even larger: 48 percent of Republican-leaning voters are following the election “extremely closely” or “very closely,” compared to 37 percent of Democratic-leaning voters. In 2018, there was little difference in the attention Democratic and Republican voters paid to the election.

Voter confidence in the election process reflects the doubts sown after the 2020 election, when the defeated Trump refused to back down to Joe Biden and made unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud before his supporters left the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 stormed. By more than 2 to 1, Americans say they are very or fairly confident that midterm election votes will be counted as accurately as in previous years. Among them are more than 8 in 10 Democrats and more than 6 in 10 Independents. Among Republicans, 55 percent say they have confidence, compared to 45 percent who don’t, including 19 percent who say they don’t have confidence in an accurate count.

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Several hundred GOP nominees for House, Senate or state offices this year have disputed or questioned the results of the 2020 election. Two years after that vote, the new poll finds more than 1 in 3 adults saying they are not sure Biden was legitimately elected. That includes more than 7 out of 10 Republicans.

Days before the final votes are cast and tallied, the poll highlights reasons Democrats are on the defensive, including that their candidates are weighed down by Biden’s low approval ratings. Biden’s approval rating is 41 percent, little changed from 39 percent in September, with 53 percent dissenting. Among registered voters, his ratings are 43 percent positive and 53 percent negative.

Just over 8 in 10 Democratic voters rate Biden positively. Meanwhile, 9 out of 10 Republican voters disapprove of the president’s job performance. Among independents, 39 percent approve of the way Biden is doing his job and 56 percent disapprove. Voters who approve of Biden support the Democrats by 90 percent to 8 percent and the Republicans by 83 percent to 12 percent. On balance, the Democratic candidates outperform Biden by five points among registered voters.

There is a notable imbalance in the intensity of these ratings 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 disapprove approve. Biden’s strong disapproval among independent voters is close to the overall result at 42 percent.

Abortion rights and threats to democracy in particular animate many Democratic voters, and these issues are used in closing messages to increase voter turnout to balance the overall benefits of the GOP. Many Democratic candidates have highlighted abortion in their TV ads, and Biden delivered a speech Wednesday night on threats to democracy, hoping to motivate the party’s grassroots.

The partisan lines that define the current state of the electorate are sharply drawn in the new poll. More than 9 in 10 Republicans and Democrats say they will vote for their party’s nominee for the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, independent likely voters split 53 percent to 45 percent for Republicans. In 2018, independent voters backed Democrats over Republicans in House races by 54 percent to 42 percent, according to the network’s exit polls.

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There is a sizeable gender gap among likely voters, with 62 percent of men saying they plan to vote for the Republican candidate in their district and 59 percent of women saying they will support the Democratic candidate.

A similarly large disparity is evident in educational attainment, with 57 percent of likely voters without a college degree favoring Republicans and 58 percent of those with degrees favoring Democrats. By more than 2 to 1, white non-college-educated voters favor Republicans, while a majority of white college-educated voters (55 percent) support Democrats.

Voter intentions are little changed from a September poll. They’re less positive for Republicans than they were earlier in the year, before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. calf and increased abortion rights as a central theme in the mid-term campaigns.

An example of the divided US electorate is the narrow split over which party voters trust will handle the country’s major problems in the coming years. 42 percent trust the Republicans, 40 percent the Democrats.

But on certain issues the advantages of each party stand out. Among registered voters, Republicans have a 14-point advantage on the economy, a 12-point advantage on inflation and rising prices (although that gap has narrowed since September), and a 20-point advantage on crime. Democrats have a 13-point lead on abortion and a 19-point lead on climate change.

On immigration and threats to democracy, with the first issue being strongly pushed by Republicans and the second being emphasized by Democrats, neither party enjoys a clear advantage, although there are major disagreements on both that are obscured by the overall results. The two parties also go beyond holding education and schools in trust, again with major partisan differences.

Republicans have attempted to make crime a major issue this year, and their advantage on that issue has increased significantly. In the summer of 2021, both parties were rated equally, who was trusted more to deal with crime. By last spring, the GOP lead had jumped to a double-digit margin and has increased slightly since then.

When asked which of the eight issues will be one of the most important issues in influencing their vote, the economy was named by 26 percent of likely voters, abortion by 22 percent, inflation and threats to democracy by 21 percent each. The 26 percent of voters who ranked the economy as one of the most important factors in their vote prefer Republicans by 44 points. The 22 percent who named abortion as one of the most important issues support the Democrats with 54 points.

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Twice as many likely Republican voters as Democratic voters named the economy as one of the single most important issues in their poll (32 percent versus 15 percent). The pattern was reversed for abortion, with 32 percent of likely Democrat voters citing it as a top single issue, compared with 12 percent of Republicans. Among independents, 28 percent say the economy is key to their decision, while 20 percent cited abortion.

The impact of inflation is evident in another question that asked people to compare their family’s financial situation to 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 decision of the Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which smashed federal abortion protections, is opposed by more than 6 in 10 adults, including nearly 9 in 10 Democrats and more than 6 in 10 Independents. Just over half of Republicans support the ruling.

The percentage of adults who say abortion should be legal in all or most cases has risen since the decision, with 66 percent saying it should always or mostly be legal, the highest in a post-ABC poll since 1995 when the question is asked was asked first.

But Democrats have yet to unite pro-choice advocates behind their party, with voters who support legal abortion leading the Democrats for Congress by 67 percent to 29 percent, while Republicans support 88 percent of voters who say abortion is pro-choice should be illegal. Voter turnout is also a factor, with legal abortion opponents nine percent more likely to say they will definitely vote or are already voting.

Post-ABC survey crosstab results by group

The Post-ABC survey was conducted by telephone from Oct. 30th to Nov. 11th. 2 among a random national sample of 1,005 adults, 75 percent of whom were reached via cellphone. The overall sample, together with the subsample of 881 registered voters, has a sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points. The margin of error is 4.5 points for the sample of 708 likely voters.

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