With less than three months until the midterm elections, registered voters are about equally likely to back Democratic and Republican candidates for the U.S. House. Among all registered voters, 44% say they would vote for or lean toward the Democratic candidate in their House district, and 42% would vote for or lean toward the Republican candidate. One-in-ten registered voters say they are not sure, while 4% favor a candidate other than a Republican or a Democrat.
Demographic differences in voters’ preference are largely consistent with recent presidential and midterm elections.
Among registered voters, just under half of women (47%) say they would vote for the Democratic candidate if the elections were held today, while 38% would vote Republican. Men are more likely to favor Republican candidates, by a narrow margin: 47% of men would vote for a Republican candidate while 41% would choose a Democrat.
About half of White voters (51%) say they would vote for the Republican candidate in their district, while 38% would vote for the Democratic candidate. By contrast, seven-in-ten Black voters would vote Democratic; just 6% of Black voters favor a Republican candidate. As was the case in March, Asian American voters favor Democratic candidates by roughly two-to-one (57% vs. 26%), while Hispanic voters favor Democrats by 25 percentage points.
Younger voters also tend to favor Democratic candidates for the House over Republican candidates. Roughly half of voters ages 18 to 29 (54%) would support a Democratic candidate if the election were held today, while 22% would support a Republican. Nearly a quarter of voters under age 30 (24%) say they would vote for a candidate from another party or are not sure of their voting preference.
Among voters ages 30 to 49, 44% prefer Democratic candidates while 40% favor Republicans. Voters ages 50 and older tilt modestly toward the GOP: 47% say they would vote for or lean toward a Republican candidate, while 42% would vote for or lean toward a Democrat.
As in recent elections, voters with postgraduate degrees continue to be one of the demographic groups most supportive of Democrats. A majority (57%) say they would vote for a Democratic candidate for the House, while 39% favor a Republican. Voters with bachelor’s degrees are more divided: 47% favor Democrats, 42% Republicans. Voters without bachelor’s degrees are about as likely to prefer a Republican (43%) as they are a Democrat (40%).
Congressional vote preferences and views of Biden
Voters who disapprove of Joe Biden’s performance in office but not very strongly are the most divided when it comes to the upcoming congressional elections – though they are more likely to favor Democratic candidates than Republican candidates.
Roughly four-in-ten in this group (43%) say they would vote for or lean toward a Democratic House candidate in their district if the election were held today, while 29% would vote for or lean toward a Republican; another 28% are not sure or favor another candidate.
Those who disapprove of how Biden is handling is presidency – but not so strongly – make up 17% of registered voters. This group is a mix of Democrats and Republicans and includes substantial shares who identify as independents but lean toward one of the two major parties: 31% are Democrats, 27% are Democratic leaners, 22% are Republicans and 17% are GOP leaners.
Voters who strongly disapprove of Biden (43% of voters) and those who approve of his job performance (37% of voters) are more one-sided in their midterm vote preferences. Among strong disapprovers of Biden – the vast majority of whom are Republicans or Republican leaners – 82% favor the GOP candidate in their district.
Large majorities of voters who approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president – 93% of whom are Democrats or Democratic leaners – say they would vote for or lean toward a Democratic candidate for U.S. House if the midterm elections were held today. About nine-in-ten voters who strongly approve of Biden’s job performance (93%) would vote for a Democrat, as would a similar share of those who approve of his performance but not so strongly (86%).
As in 2018, most voters say it ‘really matters’ which party controls Congress
The 2018 midterm elections featured the highest turnout rate among eligible voters in a U.S. midterm election in 100 years. Currently, registered voters are assigning a similar level of importance to this year’s elections as they did at the same point in the 2018 calendar.
Roughly two-thirds of voters (68%) say that it really matters which party wins control of Congress, identical to the share who said this in August 2018.
Today, about seven-in-ten Republicans (72%) and Democrats (69%) say that it really matters which party wins control of Congress. By comparison, at the same point in 2018, Democrats were slightly more likely than Republicans to say this (72% of Democrats vs. 66% of Republicans in August 2018).
Democrats are now 9 points more likely to say it really matters which party wins control of Congress than they were in March of this year. Among Republicans, the share who say this is essentially unchanged since March.
Age, racial and ethnic differences in election engagement
As in past elections, there are demographic differences in the extent to which voters see partisan control of Congress as really mattering, and in the extent to which they have given the upcoming elections a lot of thought.
Older voters are much more likely than younger voters to say they have given a lot of thought to the elections at this stage of the campaign. Half of voters ages 65 and older say this, compared with 41% of voters 50 to 64, 25% of those 30 to 49, and just 20% of voters under 30.
Voters ages 65 and older are also much more likely than those under 30 to say it really matters which party wins control of Congress in November (82% vs. 50%). Six-in-ten voters ages 30 to 49 and 71% of voters 50 to 64 say this.
White voters (72%) are more likely than Hispanic (59%), Black (58%) or Asian American (56%) voters to say partisan control of Congress really matters. And four-in-ten White voters say they have given a lot of thought to the election at this stage in the campaign, compared with 30% of Hispanic, 27% of Black and 17% of Asian voters.
Men (71%) are somewhat more likely than women (66%) to say that it really matters which party wins control of Congress. Men are also more likely than women to say they’ve given a lot of thought to the upcoming elections (40% vs. 33%).
Educational differences are similar to those seen in other recent elections, with the most highly educated voters more likely to say partisan control of Congress really matters; 73% of college graduates and 66% of voters without degrees say this. However, voters with college degrees are no more likely than those without to say they have so far given a lot of thought to the midterms.
Voter engagement and midterm preferences
While preferences for this year’s House elections are closely divided between Republican and Democratic candidates among all registered voters, the GOP holds an edge among those who say they have given a lot of thought to this year’s congressional elections at this stage in the contest: 52% say they would vote for or lean toward a Republican candidate if the election were held today, while 44% would vote for or lean toward a Democratic candidate.
Those who say it “really matters” which party wins control of Congress are evenly divided: 48% favor Democratic candidates while 48% favor Republicans.
Few voters who have given a lot of thought to the elections at this stage or who say it really matters which party wins control of Congress – just 4% and 5%, respectively – say they are not sure who they will vote for or that they plan to vote for a candidate other than a Republican or a Democrat.
Voters’ feelings about possible election outcomes
Similar shares of voters say they would feel positive emotions if Democrats were to maintain control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the midterm elections as if Republicans were to take control.
Overall, the share of voters who say they would react positively to Democrats maintaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives is similar to the share who say the same about Republicans gaining House control in the midterms.
Nearly half of registered voters (48%) say they would feel either excited (10%) or relieved (38%) if Democrats maintained control, while 46% would feel positively if Republicans regained the House (13% excited, 33% relieved).
Republicans are 9 percentage points more likely than Democrats to say they would feel excited if their party held control of the House in the next Congress (26% vs. 17%). Meanwhile, Democrats are 6 points more likely to say they would feel angry if the other party controlled the House (32% vs. 26%).
Both Republican and Democratic voters are somewhat more likely to say they would be angry if the other party controlled the House following the elections than they were prior to the 2018 midterms.
Midterm voting issues: More voters cite the economy as ‘very important’ than any other issue
With a little less than three months until the midterm elections, the economy leads voters’ list of issues in the midterm elections: About three-quarters of registered voters (77%) say the economy is very important to their vote in the 2022 congressional election, making it the top issue out of the 15 asked about in the survey.
About six-in-ten voters say that gun policy (62%), violent crime (60%), health care (60%), voting policies (59%) and education (58%) are very important to their vote.
In the wake of the landmark Supreme Court decision on abortion earlier this year, Supreme Court appointments (58%) and abortion (56%) also rank similarly high on voters’ issue lists.
Energy policy (53%) and immigration (48%) are named by about half of voters as very important issues to their vote. Smaller shares cite foreign policy (45%), the size and scope of the federal government (42%), climate change (40%) and issues around race and ethnicity (35%) as very important to their midterm vote. Roughly a quarter of voters (28%) now say the coronavirus outbreak will be very important to their vote, the lowest of 15 issues asked about in the survey.
Since March, Democrats have become much more likely to say that several issues, including abortion and gun policy, are very important to their vote. By comparison, no issue has substantially grown in importance among Republicans.
On the issue of abortion, 46% of Democratic registered voters said in a March survey that abortion was a very important issue to their vote, months before the Supreme Court’s decision that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee a right to an abortion. Today, 71% of Democrats say this, making it one of the most important issues for Democrats. Among Republicans, there has been little change on this issue since March.
A roughly similar pattern is seen on gun policy. In March, 54% of Democratic voters said it was a very important issue to their vote, but 71% say this today. Republicans are about as likely to view gun policy as very important today as they were five months ago (55% vs. 52%).
Democrats are also more likely to view Supreme Court appointments as a very important issue to their vote. Today, nearly seven-in-ten Democratic voters (69%) say appointments to the Supreme Court are very important, compared with 59% who said this in March. The share of Republicans who cite court appointments as very important to their vote has slipped 7 points since March, from 55% to 48%.
Among voters, both Republicans and Democrats have become less likely to view both foreign policy and the coronavirus outbreak as very important issues to their vote. In March, two-thirds of Republicans said foreign policy was a very important issue; today 54% say this. Among Democrats, about half said in March that foreign policy was very important to their vote, compared with 37% today.
On the coronavirus outbreak, just 13% of Republicans say it is a very important issue to their vote in the upcoming congressional elections, down 6 points from March. Democratic voters have also seen a similar decline in issue importance for coronavirus (46% in March, 41% now).
Little change in favorable views of Congress
Americans’ views of Congress have changed little since January. Today, roughly three-in-ten adults say they have a favorable view of Congress, up slightly from the 28% who said this in January, but down from April 2021 when more than a third (36%) said the same thing.
Democrats are about twice as likely as Republicans to say they have a favorable view of Congress (40% vs. 21%). Democrats are only slightly more favorable today than they were in January (36%) but 10 points lower than in April 2021, when half viewed Congress favorably. Views of Congress among Republicans have changed little since 2021.