More likely voters say they plan to vote for a Republican than a Democrat in the midterm elections, according to a poll Monday that shows persistent concerns about the economy and inflation are bolstering the GOP in the last weeks of the campaign.
The New York Times/Siena College poll found that 49% of likely voters will back a GOP candidate for Congress on Nov. 8, compared to 45% who will vote for a Democrat. It is a flip from September, when Democrats held a 1-point edge.
With inflation stubbornly high and Wall Street stocks tumbling, 44% of voters cited the economy as the most pressing issue, up from 36% in July and by far the most commonly cited issue. Voters most concerned about the economy favored GOP candidates by a 2-to-1 margin.
Independents broke for Republicans by 10 points compared to a 3-point edge for Democrats in September. The most striking finding was that women who identified as independents favored Republicans by 18 points, a massive swing from a 14-point edge for Democrats in September as liberal candidates focused on abortion access.
The GOP is eager to retake the House majority they lost in the 2018 midterm elections. They only need to net five seats to win back the chamber, while the evenly divided Senate remains a toss-up heading into the final sprint to Election Day.
President Biden’s low approval rates appeared to be dragging down his party’s fortunes. Pollsters said 45% of voters “strongly disapproved” of his performance, and 90% of those voters planned to support a Republican candidate.
Pollsters said Democrats tend to win over voters on non-economic issues, but the topic of gun violence has dropped off from 9% in July to 1% in October and abortion remains flat at 5%.
The Times/Siena survey of 792 likely voters was conducted by telephone Oct. 9-12. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.