Monday, October 3, 2022

Economic Issues Outweigh Concerns About Rights in Midterm Vote

Well, you would think. (*Eye-roll.*)

From Monmouth, "Biden gets poor marks on handling pivotal issues":

West Long Branch, NJ – Economic issues are a bigger factor in this year’s midterm elections than concerns about rights and democracy, according to the latest Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll. Democrats prioritize a fairly wide range of issues from climate change to abortion, while Republicans focus on a more limited set including inflation, crime, and immigration. Independents, though, tend to hone in on one issue above all: rising prices. Further dampening Democrats’ prospects are the poor numbers President Joe Biden gets for his performance on the issues most important to independents.

Republicans have made slight gains in the public’s preference for party control of Congress since the summer. Currently, 36% of Americans say they want the GOP in charge and another 11% have no initial preference but lean toward Republican control. Democratic control is preferred by 34% with another 10% leaning toward the Democrats. The combined 47% who choose Republican control is up from 43% in August, while the 44% support level for Democratic control is down from 50%.

A majority (54%) of Americans say it is very important to have their preferred party in control of Congress. This control importance metric is slightly higher among those who want Republicans (62%) than those who want Democrats (58%) leading Congress, which is a flip of the partisan result for this question in last month’s poll. Similarly, those who want Republican leadership (65%) are somewhat more likely than those who want Democrats in charge (58%) to say they are extremely motivated to vote this year.

“Because the congressional map favors the GOP, Democrats need to do more than ‘keep it close’ in order to hold onto their House majority. One roadblock for them is that the issue picture favors Republicans,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The poll asked about the importance of 12 issue areas for the federal government to address. Those rated either extremely or very important by the largest number of Americans include inflation (82%), crime (72%), elections and voting (70%), jobs and unemployment (68%), and immigration (67%). The next tier of issue concerns includes transportation and energy infrastructure (57%), abortion (56%), racial inequality (53%), gun control (51%), and climate change (49%). The least important issues for federal government action right now are the Covid pandemic (32%) and student loan debt (31%). About 8 in 10 Republicans put inflation, crime, and immigration at the top of their issue list. A similar number of Democrats prioritize climate change, racial inequality, elections and voting, gun control, and abortion, with about 3 in 4 also giving emphasis to jobs and inflation. However, the only issue which more than 3 in 4 independents place high importance on is inflation. Additionally, independents are more concerned about overall economic issues along with crime and immigration than they are by other issues.

When asked which group of issues is more important in their support for Congress this year, concerns about the economy and cost of living (54%) outpace concerns about fundamental rights and democratic processes (38%) among all Americans. Republicans prioritize the economy (71%), while Democrats prioritize rights (67%). Independents are more likely to give preference to economic issues (61%) than concerns about rights and democracy (29%).

“Democrats are all over the place when it comes to their key issues. This makes it difficult for the party to create a cohesive messaging strategy to motivate its base. Republicans, on the other hand, just have to hammer away at rising prices and ‘the wolf is at the door’ to get their voters riled up,” said Murray. He added, “A major problem for Democrats is their base messaging doesn’t hold as much appeal for independents as the GOP issue agenda does. Even though truly persuadable independents are a rather small group these days, this small difference can have a major impact given the expectation that congressional control will hinge on a handful of very close contests.”

Perception of President Biden’s performance on these key issues is not helping the Democratic cause. The only issue where he gets a net positive rating is handling the Covid pandemic (50% approve and 47% disapprove) – which is one of the public’s lowest priority issues right now. Only 3 in 10 Americans approve of the job Biden has done on the nation’s top concern – inflation (30%) – as well as other concerns that Republicans are focused on – i.e., crime (32%) and immigration (31%). Biden also gets similarly low marks on abortion (31%) and gun control (30%) – two issues that are important to Democrats. About 4 in 10 approve of the president’s performance on other issues covered in the poll.

Democrats are about twice as likely as independents – and many multiples more likely than Republicans – to give Biden high marks for handling each of these issues. Still, Democrats are relatively less prone to approve of the president’s performance on crime, inflation, abortion, immigration, and gun control – between 61% and 69% – when compared with the other seven issues covered in the poll. Biden gets between 77% and 82% approval from his fellow Democrats on these issues, except for Covid where he earns nearly universal approval (91%).

“Obviously, the Republicans are hitting away at issues where Biden – and by extension the Democratic Party – is weakest. But it’s also worth noting that Biden does not provide a rallying point for Democratic voters on some of the issues, such as abortion, that his party is leaning on to motivate its own base,” said Murray...

Keep reading (via Memeorandum).