Democrats Stirring but Fail to Match GOP Support, Engagement
As the 2010 midterm elections near, Republican engagement and enthusiasm continue at record levels, outpacing even improved Democratic showings on these indicators. The growing popularity of early voting — about a quarter of voters nationally say they plan to vote before Election Day — gives Democrats less time to make up ground and there is no indication that their voter mobilization efforts are outmatching Republican efforts.
Possible Negatives for Candidates: Vote for Bank Bailout, Palin Support
Two factors have emerged as major potential negatives for congressional candidates: TARP and Sarah Palin. Americans are split over whether they are more likely to vote for candidates who supported the health care law.
Latinos and the 2010 Elections
In a year when support for Democratic candidates has eroded, the party’s standing among Latinos appears as strong as ever. However, Hispanic voters appear to be less motivated than others to go to the polls.
Independents Oppose Party in Power … Again
For the third national election in a row, independent voters may be poised to vote out the party in power. Political independents now favor GOP candidates by about as large a margin as they backed Barack Obama in 2008. The “independent vote,” however, is in no way monolithic; this is not surprising given that most independents are recent refugees from the two major parties.
Religious Beliefs and Political Issues
Religious beliefs continue to be influential in shaping some Americans’ views about social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. Far fewer cite religion as a top influence on issues such as immigration, the environment and poverty.
The Vote for Congress: GOP Fares Better with Whites, Men, Independents and Seniors
While voter preferences for the midterm elections remain closely divided, Republicans now enjoy advantages among typically loyal voting blocs that wavered in 2006 and are doing better with key swing groups. Americans who intend to vote GOP this fall are also far more engaged in the campaign this year.
Earmarks Could Help Candidates in Midterms; Palin and Tea Party Connections Could Hurt
Across party lines, the public sees earmarking by their congressional candidates as more of an asset than a liability. Americans are divided on the value of Obama in November, while both Palin’s support and Tea Party affiliation are seen by more as negative than positive. On energy, public backs a wide range of goals and policies.
Voters Rate Political Parties’ Ideologies
In broad terms, voters view the Democratic Party’s ideology as the opposite of the Republican Party’s: 58% say the Democratic Party is either very liberal or liberal while 56% say the GOP is either very conservative or conservative.
Voting Intentions Even, Turnout Indicators Favor GOP
Voters younger than age 30 favor the Democratic candidate in their district by a wide margin (57% to 32%), yet only half of young voters say they are absolutely certain to vote. Voters ages 50 and older favor the Republican candidate in their district by double digits (11 points) and roughly eight-in-ten (79%) say they are absolutely certain to vote.
What Kind of Candidates are Voters Looking for in November?
Americans are less likely to vote for a candidate who supported TARP, more likely to back one who compromises, and split on health care supporters. Neither party has an advantage on the economy, but the GOP has improved on several issues. Sharp rise in BP criticism over the oil spill.