poll results

Poll Confirms Voter Interest Surging for Midterm Election

Democrats predict a blue wave and Republicans sense a surge in support after the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation. They both could be right and the nation could be in for a blockbuster night of tight election results. [Illustration by Zac Freeland/Vox]

Democrats predict a blue wave and Republicans sense a surge in support after the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation. They both could be right and the nation could be in for a blockbuster night of tight election results. [Illustration by Zac Freeland/Vox]

Democrats predict a blue wave in the looming midterm elections and Republicans point to a GOP surge following the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. They both could be right.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released over the weekend shows overall enthusiasm for voting this November is markedly higher (12 percent) than it was in October 2014, the last midterm election.

The two largest leaps in enthusiasm from four years ago are among younger (25 percent) and nonwhite (24 percent) voters. Enthusiasm among Democrats jumped 18 percent, independents 13 percent and Republicans 4 percent.

There are fascinating statistics within statistics. The Kavanaugh confirmation battle increased Republican voter resolve this fall, especially among males. President Donald Trump’s approval rating also bumped up. However, a significant gender gap remains. According to the poll, women favor Democratic House candidates by a 59 to 37 percent margin, driven in part by an even greater split among women who identify as political independents (62 to 37 percent).

A striking, though not surprising finding is that partisans on both sides seem to be hardening their positions. Ninety percent of voters who disapprove of Trump are supporting Democratic candidates and 87 percent who approve of Trump are voting for Republicans.

Partisans do agree that the upcoming election is more important than previous midterms. Democrats are more convinced at 74 percent, but 61 percent of Republicans agree.

On issues, poll respondents expressed slightly more trust in Republicans over Democrats in managing the economy (45 to 41 percent), while showing about the same level of trust in Democrats over Republicans on taxes (45 to 42 percent). Democrats hold double-digit leads over Republicans on changing the way Washington works, appointment of Supreme Court justices, immigration and equal treatment of men and women. According to poll results, the economy and health care rank as the top issues.

The poll was conducted last week using a random sample of 1,144 adults, 65 percent reached via cell phones and 35 percent on landline telephones. Reaching voters by cell phone is a major change in the way telephone surveys are conducted to ensure representative inclusion of younger, poorer and minority respondents.

 

Political Polling Mostly for Fun

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took aim at early polling this week after one poll showed his support in the Republican presidential nomination sweepstakes at a minuscule 4 percent. 

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took aim at early polling this week after one poll showed his support in the Republican presidential nomination sweepstakes at a minuscule 4 percent. 

Even though Fox News will rely on political polls to decide which GOP presidential candidates are invited onto the big-stage debate next week, polls right now don't mean very much.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took aim at early polling this week after one poll showed his support in the Republican presidential nomination sweepstakes at a minuscule 4 percent. He said the poll showed only 14 percent of GOP voters were undecided. "I think it is more likely that 14 percent are decided," he said.

While early polling is mostly useful as a private guide for political contributors, this year's polling has burst into headlines because of the crowded candidate field and more recently the surprising emergence of Donald Trump as the frontrunner.

Trump's brashness has been credited for his sudden rise in the polls, which has inspired – or reduced – other candidates into similar incendiary campaign antics, such as Mike Huckabee comparing the Iran nuclear deal to the Holocaust or Rand Paul torching the federal tax code.

The criteria for the first GOP presidential debate also has underscored political polling, especially the collective underperformance of most of the should-be-frontrunner candidates and the tight grouping of second-level candidates.

If the political polls tell any story, it may be that shouting louder is the winning strategy for gaining media coverage and pushing up poll numbers. But the story can be hugely incomplete. Trump, for example, may look good now, but will his tactics become tiresome and result in higher negative ratings? Will someone further back in the pack strike a nerve, whether on the debate stage or not? Will the muddle of a primary prompt GOP leaders to urge Mitt Romney to enter the race as the Republican white knight?

Political polls for the moment are mostly good for summer-time conversation on the back deck. The results will soon fade as the leaves turn colors and the snow starts falling. Enjoy the fun while it lasts.