Two Weeks Out, Democrats Retain an Edge, National Poll Shows
WASHINGTON — October 23, 2018
The upcoming mid-term elections in just over two weeks’ time will help define the rest of Donald Trump’s presidency.
Americans will vote for members of both chambers of Congress, as well as for governors in 36 out of 50 states.
Motivation amongst the electorate to vote is extremely high according to the latest national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. The percentage of women, Latinos and young voters expressing high interest in the midterms — those registering either a 9 or a 10 on a 10-point scale — has increased by double digits from their average in the past NBC/WSJ polls this year.
72% of Democrats say they have high interest in the upcoming election, versus 68% of Republican respondents.
And among all registered voters, 65% have high interest — the largest for a midterm electorate dating back to 2006 in the NBC/WSJ poll.
“Midterms are about mobilization, and we are headed into the stretch run with unprecedented enthusiasm among both parties,” says Yang, the Democratic pollster.
The poll data shows President Donald Trump is at his highest job rating yet as president, as well as Republicans as a whole with their largest lead on the economy in the poll’s history.
And in the most competitive House battlegrounds — many of which are on traditionally Republican turf — congressional preference is tied.
“It’s a barnburner,” says Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the survey with Democratic pollster Fred Yang and Hart Research Associates.
Yang adds, “The current data shows that the Democratic advantage has ebbed but still with a large advantage. And the GOP shows some life.”
In the poll, 50% of likely voters prefer the Democrats to control Congress after the November elections, versus 41% who want Republicans to stay in charge — up 1 point from the Democrats’ lead in the September NBC/WSJ survey.
Among the wider pool of registered voters, however, the Democratic advantage is 7 points, 48-41%, which is down from their 12 point edge in September.
Democrats lead among African-Americans (81-11%), Latinos (66-26%), white women with college degrees (61-28%), those ages 18-34 (58-32%), all women (57-32%) and independents (41-27%).
Republicans, meanwhile, are ahead among men (52-38%), whites (49-41%) and white women without college degrees (48-40%).
“Despite these improvements [for Republicans], you’ve got to look where the tilt is going. And the tilt didn’t change,” McInturff observes.
Trump’s job rating among registered voters stands at 47% approve, 49% disapprove — up from 44-52 % a month ago.
That’s his highest rating as president in the NBC/WSJ poll.
33% of registered voters in the poll say their vote for Congress in 2018 will be a signal of opposition to the president; 29% say their vote will be a signal of support; and 36% say it won’t be a signal either way.
Republicans are also the leader in the ranking of economic policy, which is liked by 43% of voters, while 28% pick the Democrats, which is the best result of the Republican party in such polls.
Republicans also hold the advantage on trade (R+17), handling the Supreme Court nomination process (R+3), and changing how Washington works (R+1).
Democrats, meanwhile, have the advantage on looking out for women’s interests (D+29), health care (D+18), looking out for the middle class (D+8), and immigration (D+4).
Asked which one or two issues would be the most important factor in deciding their vote, 38% said the economy and jobs; 31% said health care, 23% said changing how things work; and 22% each said looking out for the middle class and immigration (Respondents were allowed up to two answers).
Another result of the NBC/WSJ poll is that 80% of registered voters believe that the United States is divided.
These divided answers and strong feelings, Yang says, indicate “an electorate in turmoil and flux.”
However, many experts doubt the representativeness of the sample and the objectivity of the live-caller NBC/WSJ poll. The poll was conducted Oct. 14-17 with 900 registered voters – almost half via cell phone. The statistical error with this technique is not less than 5%