Poll: Midterm motivation rising, but for different reasons


(NewsNation) — With just over 30 days left before the midterm elections, high prices remain the top issue for most voters who report they are overwhelmingly motivated compared to previous elections, according to the latest NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ poll released Tuesday.

Inflation remains the top driver to the polls, with 45% of respondents choosing increasing costs as their most important factor this election. Abortion followed behind, with 18% of surveyors saying it’s motivating them to vote this November.

Decision Desk HQ Senior Data Scientist Kiel Williams broke down the polling data, noting inflation is an issue that’s transcended party affiliations.

“Even among Democrats — where things like abortion, things like climate change are really important — even there, inflation is the plurality answer among which issues the most important,” Williams said.

According to the latest Consumer Price Index, prices were up 0.1% in the month of August and up 8.3% in the last 12 months. Last week, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates to a level not seen in over a decade, the third rate hike since June.

Holiday shopping in particular is on voters’ minds, with 46% of all voters saying they will spend less money this year.

Just under half of the respondents said they are worse off financially than they were a year ago (47%). Broken out by party, surveyed Republicans (57%) report they’re doing worse than Democrats (37.9% worse off) and Independents (48.5% worse off).

“It’s always funny to me historically, to look at these questions of are you better off or worse off than you were a year ago,” Williams said. “And if you split that up by party … as soon as the White House switches control, who thinks they were better or worse off a year ago, immediately inverts itself.”

Absent from this analysis was the importance of crime in the midterms, which was not included in the poll question about factors driving people to vote. However, 18.7% of respondents called crime the biggest problem facing the nation, second to inflation (65%).

Violent crime increased by 5% in 2020, according to available FBI data. Beyond that, the bureau says it received 52% of law enforcement agency crime statistics, and will not be releasing a full analysis of last year’s data.

Meanwhile, out of the 1,017 voters polled, 66% said they were motivated a great deal compared to prior midterm elections. About 26% said they were not motivated at all.

Williams points out that it’s based on a variety of things which are pushing voters to the polls.

“Just because we see a higher level of excitement or enthusiasm in the electorate, you can’t draw a straight line to say higher enthusiasm means Republicans will do better,” Williams said. “It just means that if you look at Republicans, they’re really fired up about inflation. But if you look at Democrats, we see more and more right now they’re really fired up about abortion.”

About 30% of Democrats reported abortion to be their top issue, still second to inflation (32.9%).

For the first time, more voters (44.8%) responded they would choose the Democratic candidate in their local Congressional race than the Republican (43.7%). With a margin of error of a little more than 3%, it remains a tossup.

Among Independents, 41.3% would choose the Democratic candidate, compared to 30.7% who said they would go with the GOP.

In the previous poll, 44.9% of all voters said they would choose the GOP candidate while 42% would pick the Democrat. However, that doesn’t necessarily translate to a Democratic edge.

“Just because Democrats have an advantage on the generic ballot, that doesn’t mean they are favored, for example, to retain the House of Representatives,” Williams said.

Decision Desk HQ projects the Democrats have a 63.4% chance to hold onto the Senate. Republicans are favored to take back the House, with 78.4% odds.

A majority of voters (54%) polled said they disapproved of Democrat President Joe Biden, with 46% approving.

It’s improved slightly from the previous month when 54% disapproved and 43% approved of the president’s job performance.

“Some of them might be gas prices, some of them might be inflation Reduction Act,” Williams said.

It’s a few points higher than the REUTERS/Ipsos poll, which shows the President with a 41% approval rating, and 53% disapproving. FiveThirtyEight has the president’s approval rating at 42.1%, with 51.9% disapproving.

Looking ahead to 2024, 60% of Republicans said they want former President Donald Trump to run as the GOP nominee. Among independents, 61% said they don’t want to see him on the ballot. About 84% of Democrats also say they don’t want the former president to run.

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