The economy and inflation are the dominant issues three weeks after the congressional midterm elections, challenging Democrats’ chances of retaining control of Congress, according to a series of new polls released in recent days.
Widespread impressions of the economy as bad and deteriorating, combined with dissatisfaction with President Joe Biden and the state of affairs in the country, suggest that the country’s general political mood — which was slightly more favorable for Democrats after the overthrow of Roe by the Supreme Court v. Wade – May tilt more in favor of Republicans.
A CBS News/YouGov poll released Sunday found that 65% of voters believe the economy is deteriorating and 68% say the Biden administration could do more to fight inflation. In a New York Times/Siena College poll released Monday, 64% of likely voters say the United States is heading in the wrong direction, with the economy (26%) and inflation (18%) being the only problems. which are cited by double-digit shares of likely voters as the main problem facing the country today, with all other problems at 8% or less. And 70% of registered voters say they are not satisfied with the state of affairs in the US today, according to an AP-NORC poll released Monday, including majorities across party lines.
The Times/Siena poll finds Republican congressional candidates with 49% support to Democrats 45% among likely voters, a split that falls within the margin of sampling error. In the CBS/YouGov poll, likely voter preferences break 47% for Republicans to 45% for Democrats, also within the poll’s margin of error.
A new CNN Poll of Polls average finds an even distribution in generic voting polls, with both Democratic and Republican nominees having 46% support among voters in the new Poll of Polls, compared with a narrow, 3-point tilt toward the Democrats in the mean as recently as late September.
Three of the five polls included in the average report results among likely voters. A fourth, from Fox News, which showed Democrats with 44% to 41% of Republicans among registered voters, finds a 47% Republican to 46% Democratic split among those who say they are confident they will vote this fall .
A narrow gap in generic voting preferences often points to Republican gains in the House. In general, voter preferences for partisan candidates do not always translate directly into a comparable result in the share of the seats in the House of Representatives. In some recent elections, Republicans have won more seats than their share of the nationwide popular vote, partly as a result of reclassification.
Recent polls suggest that a widespread focus on the economy has stalled democratic momentum after the Supreme Court ruling Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ended federal protections for abortion rights. A CNN poll released last week found that 9 in 10 registered voters thought the economy was important for voting, while 72% thought abortion was so important. The registered voters who consider the economy extremely important to their vote are breaking sharply towards Republicans in their districts, 53% to 38%.
The same survey found that 48% of likely voters supported the Republican candidate in the competing congressional districts that will ultimately determine control of the House, while 43% in that group supported the Democrat. Registered voters in those districts were more likely than those across the country to view economic concerns as very important to their voting decision, and those voters are breaking even more sharply towards the Republican candidate (56% to 30%).
Over the course of this year, the momentum in the House race has shifted from a clear GOP advantage to an environment where the Democrats seemed more competitive, and it now appears to be bending back to the Republicans. The nationwide tie in the current poll average is weaker for Republicans than polls would have suggested before the Dobbs decision. Early this year, high-quality polls consistently found the GOP significantly ahead of Democrats on a generic voting question. Democrats narrowed that gap sharply over the summer, culminating in a small numerical advantage in the mean and in most polls on the general vote. But only one poll that met CNN’s standards for reporting at the time found Democrats with a significant lead among voters. None of the polls included in the current average shows a clear leader between the two sides in the race for control of the House.
The CNN Poll of Polls is an average of the five most recent unbiased, national surveys of either registered or likely voters on generic voting preference within the home districts of voters who meet CNN’s standards. The poll includes the results of the NPR/Marist poll of Sept. 27-29, the CNN poll of Sept. 5, the CBS News/YouGov poll of Oct. 12-14, the Fox News poll of Oct. 9-12. and the New York Times/Siena College poll taken Oct. 9-12.