With less than two weeks before the midterm elections, the Republican Party holds significant leads on several major issues. Voters say the GOP could do a better job than the Democrats on the economy, and the Republicans hold double-digit advantages on both terrorism and the budget deficit.
However, the Democrats have advantages on a number of qualities and traits – from honesty to empathy and a willingness to compromise. And on some dimensions, the Republican Party is viewed less positively by voters than it was just prior to the 2010 election, when it captured the House.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Oct. 15-20 among 2,003 adults, including 1,494 registered voters, finds that neither party is especially popular with voters as they head into the midterms. The GOP’s favorable ratings are underwater: 39% of registered voters view the party favorably, while 55% have an unfavorable impression. Favorable ratings for the Democratic Party, while better than the GOP’s, are hardly robust: As many voters view the party unfavorably (48%) as favorably (47%).
This year’s elections, like the previous two midterms, will take place against a backdrop of deep public dissatisfaction with national conditions. Just 29% of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the country; more than twice as many (65%) are dissatisfied. That is on par with levels of dissatisfaction before the 2010 and 2006 midterms. Views of the nation’s economy are far less gloomy than they were four years ago; nonetheless, ratings for the economy remain highly negative, with 78% saying conditions are only fair or poor.
Voter frustration with members of Congress is currently even higher than it was 2010 or 2006. Fully 68% of registered voters say they do not want to see most members of Congress reelected – 14 points higher than in 2010 and 19 points higher than in 2006. And roughly a third (35%) say they do not want their own representative reelected, compared with 32% four years ago and 26% eight years ago.
Yet unlike in those elections, when a single party controlled both the House and Senate, anti-incumbent sentiment now crosses party lines. Republican and Democratic voters are about equally likely to oppose the reelection of most representatives and their own member of Congress.
new survey finds overall voter preferences have changed little over the past month. As was the case in September, Democrats hold a slight edge among all registered voters – currently 48% support the Democrat in their district or lean Democratic, while 42% favor the Republican or lean Republican. When the sample is narrowed to the 1,126 voters most likely to vote, the race is a virtual tie: 47% support the Democratic candidate, while 46% support the Republican. (For a detailed breakdown of congressional vote preferences, see the detailed .)
As has been the case all year, Republican voters are substantially more engaged in the election than are Democratic voters. And on several measures, the GOP’s advantage is about as great as it was four years ago: Currently, 68% of those who support the Republican candidate in their district have given a lot of thought to the election, compared with 54% who support the Democratic candidate.
More Republican than Democratic voters say they are following news about the election very closely (35% vs. 25%). And, as was the case in October 2010, more Republican voters than Democratic voters say they will definitely vote in the election (77% vs. 70%).