The latest Yahoo News/YouGov poll ahead of next Tuesday’s midterm elections shows that Republicans have crushed Democrats’ long-standing lead in the fight for control of Congress, enabling the GOP to make significant gains on Election Day.
The poll of 1,641 U.S. adults, conducted Oct. 27-31, found that the two parties now — within the poll’s margin of error of 2.7% — among all registered voters (46% Democrats, 44% Republicans ) are effectively level with those who have already voted or say they will definitely vote on November 8 (49% Democrats, 47% Republicans).
In August, Democrats were 6 points ahead (45% versus 39%) on the so-called generic election question — which asks respondents which candidate they would vote for in their congressional district if the election were held today. At the end of September they were still 4 (45% to 41%) ahead.
But even that trajectory — a three-fold narrowing of the Democratic lead in the final days of the campaign — doesn’t fully capture how difficult the environment has become for President Biden’s party as the election draws nearer.
The rest of the Yahoo News/YouGov results tell the story.
On the one hand, enthusiasm should favor the opposition party. While Democrats have an early voting advantage — one in five registered voters (20%) say they have already voted, up from 5% two weeks ago, and so far they prefer Democrats (64%) over Republicans (33%) — the GOP is poised to catch up.
Overall, 74% of registered voters on the Democratic side have either already voted (24%) or say they will “definitely” vote (50%). But that number is 7 percentage points higher among Republicans (81%), with 18% saying they have already voted and 63% saying they will definitely vote by Tuesday.
Meanwhile, persistently high prices are not helping. Throughout the campaign, voters have consistently told pollsters that inflation is their number one concern, and it remains the case today: a full 38% — including 20% of Democrats, 53% of Republicans, and 37% of Independents — choose inflation as “the most important issue when thinking about this year’s election”. Nothing else comes close: no democracy (18%), no abortion (10%) and no crime (5%).
Likewise, 74% of voters rate inflation as a “very important” electoral issue, more than the six other issues tested – and almost all (94%) rate it as at least “fairly” important.
The problem here for Democrats is twofold. The first challenge is that rising costs are making it almost impossible for Biden’s party to compete in Ronald Reagan’s classic Are You Better Off Today? Test. When asked whether things have gotten better or worse “for people like you” since Biden took office, just 24% of registered voters say “better” — while nearly half (48%) say “worse.”
Inflation is at the heart of this imbalance. Despite signs of improvement over the summer, a full 63% of voters now say inflation – which rose again in September at its fastest annual rate in 40 years – is “getting worse”. Only 17% say it “gets better”.
As the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates in response to inflation, even more voters (67%) say the US economy is either already in recession (52%) or “heading for a recession” (15%) . And 75% describe the “state of the American economy” as either fair (26%) or bad (47%).
As a result, only 13% of registered voters say their own “economic situation” is improving; more than three and a half times as many (47%) say it is getting worse, up from 44% in August. For independents, this gap widens to 40 percentage points: 8% are getting better versus 48%, who are getting worse.
The second inflationary challenge for Democrats is that despite widespread acknowledgment that the pandemic has helped spark soaring prices — a full 79% of voters say the disruptions from COVID-19 are either “some” (35%) or earn “a lot” (44%). ) of guilt – many remain deeply dissatisfied with how the party in power has handled the issue.
Six in 10 voters believe Biden is either “somewhat” (18%) or “very much” (42%) to blame for inflation; of those who say inflation is getting worse, nearly three times as many blame “policies the president can control” than “events the president cannot control.” Likewise, only 29% of voters believe Biden is doing enough to fight inflation. A majority (53%) do not.
The GOP will likely benefit from this perception. By a margin of 43% to 34%, voters believe the GOP would do a “better job” than Democrats on inflation. And a similar majority (40%) say things “would get better for people like her” if “Republicans took control of Congress after this year’s election”; slightly fewer (38%) say it would get worse.
Those may not be overwhelmingly positive numbers, but they’re a lot better than Democrats’: Just 32% of voters say they would be better off if Biden’s party retained control of Congress, compared with 43% who say things would get worse. Even fewer independents (20%) believe they will be better off under continued democratic rule.
The gap in enthusiasm mentioned is also evident here. While about 6 in 10 Democrats say things would get better for them under a Democratic congress (58%) and worse under a Republican congress (62%), more than 7 in 10 Republicans express the opposite opinion — that things will go for they would do worse under a Democratic Congress (77%) and better under a Republican (73%).
Simply put, the personal stakes of the election appear to be higher for Republicans than for Democrats — and that can be a strong predictor of voter turnout.
The poll isn’t all bad news for Biden. Ranging from 42% agree to 49% disagree among all adults, the President’s approval rating is one point down from two weeks ago. But it’s also slightly better than its average approval rating in Yahoo News/YouGov polls conducted in August and September (38% agree, 54% disagree). Among registered voters, Biden’s rating (46% agree, 52% disagree) is even higher, showing a similar improvement over his August and September stats (42% agree, 55% disagree).
Yet Biden is still underwater — and he’s not gaining many converts. In fact, almost all of the increase in his approval rating has come from voters saying it was them beautiful planning to vote democratically in November; As the election approaches, they seem less inclined to express negative views of their own party’s president.
At the same time, Democratic leaders had hoped that the Supreme Court’s momentous June decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overthrow Roe v. Wade and have individual states ban abortion would help stem the typical midterm backlash against the party to counteract the President. And to a certain extent it has. Just over a third (34%) of all registered voters, more than half of registered Democratic voters (55%) and nearly two-thirds of Democratic female voters (66%) describe themselves as “angry” about the Dobbs decision; fewer voters (30%) say they are angry about “Joe Biden’s response to inflation.” That could still help boost Democrat turnout.
But abortion policy also has limitations in today’s troubled economic environment, and there are signs the White House’s preferred message — “Restore Roe” — isn’t breaking through. To the question “which of the following [four] Views on abortion policy are closest to your own,” say a majority of voters (30%), “Abortion should be as legal across the US as it was under Roe v. Calf”; only half as many (16%) say “there should be no restrictions on abortion in the US”. When asked which of the same four options “closes closest to the Democratic Party’s position on abortion,” more voters chose “no restrictions” (38%) than “recovery roe” (37%).
This is the line that Republicans pushed down the campaign trail – that Democrats are the “real abortion extremists” – and it may help explain why the Democrats are biased when asked which party has the “more extreme view on abortion.” , are at an advantage. has shrunk from 10 points to six points among registered voters in the past two weeks.
However, the more time Democrats have spent emphasizing abortion to motivate the grassroots, the less time they have had to emphasize voters’ primary concern. Asked to select the one topic (out of 10 options) they have heard “Democratic Party candidates talk about most often” in the “recent weeks”, a large majority of registered voters (41%) chose abortion. Only 8% opt for inflation.
When asked the same question about the GOP, 37% of voters say Republicans talked about inflation the most at the end of the campaign — about three times as many (13%) who say Republicans talked about crime the most problem.
The Yahoo News poll was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,641 US adults surveyed online October 27-31, 2022. This sample was weighted for gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey conducted by the US Bureau of the Census as well as the 2020 presidential vote (or no vote) and voter registration status. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US adults. The error rate is around 2.7%.