Control of Congress really matters to Republicans, less to Democrats in 2022

People vote at the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex on March 1, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Montinique Monroe/Getty Images)

The Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand public perceptions of congressional scrutiny, issues in the upcoming midterm elections, and confidence in the conduct of the election. For this analysis, we interviewed 10,441 U.S. adults in March 2022. All of those who participated in this survey are members of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel recruited through national random sampling d residential addresses. In this way, almost all American adults have a chance of being selected. The survey is weighted to be representative of the US adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, party affiliation, education and other categories. Learn more about the ATP methodology.

Here are the questions used for the report, along with the answers, and its methodology.

With the midterm congressional elections more than seven months away, registered voters are evenly split between the two major parties in their voting preferences. At the same time, Republican voters are more likely than Democratic voters to say it “really matters” which party takes control of Congress midterm this fall.

Chart shows change from 2018 midterms, Republicans more likely than Democrats to say partisan control of Congress 'really matters'

At this early stage in the campaign, President Joe Biden is much more of a motivator for Republican voters than Democrats: 71% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters say they think their vote is “against” Biden; far fewer Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters (46%) consider their vote to be a vote “for” the president.

The new Pew Research Center survey of 10,441 American adults, including 9,021 registered voters, conducted March 7-13, 2022, finds that most voters (63%) say the party that wins control of Congress in the this year’s elections “really matter”, similar to the share that said this in early 2018 (65%).

Now, unlike in 2018, Republican registered voters (70%) are more likely than Democratic voters (60%) to say which party wins control of Congress this year really matters. Four years ago, there were only slight partisan differences on this measure (67% of Democrats and 65% of Republicans said it really mattered which party controlled Congress after the election) and that is remained the case throughout the 2018 campaign.

Chart shows voters split on midterm voting intentions

The new survey finds that equal shares of registered voters say if the election were held today, they would support either the Republican candidate or the Democratic candidate (43% each) in their constituency. Another 10% say they don’t know who they would support, while 4% would vote for other candidates.

At the start of the 2018 midterm cycle, Democratic candidates had a double-digit advantage over Republicans in the generic Congressional ballot. The Democrats went on to win a majority in the United States House of Representatives that year.

Graph shows most Republican voters say they vote

As in previous midterm elections, voters are more likely to see their vote as an expression of opposition than support for the president. This is the case today: 36% say their midterm vote is against Biden, while 24% see it as a vote for Biden; 38% say Biden isn’t much of a factor in their voting decision.

The partisan disparity in these views is wide: nearly three times as many Republican voters think their vote is against Biden than say the president isn’t much of a factor in their vote (71% vs. 26%) ; by contrast, Democratic voters are about as likely to say Biden isn’t much of a factor (47%) as they are to say their midterm vote will be “for” him (46%).

The chart shows that about three-quarters of Democrats are confident midterm reviews will be conducted fairly, compared to only about half of Republicans

Amid ongoing disputes over the 2020 election, a majority of Americans say they are very (23%) or somewhat confident (40%) that the midterm elections will be conducted fairly and accurately. However, there are significant partisan differences when it comes to confidence: while 76% of Democrats say they are confident that the fall election will be conducted fairly and accurately (32% are very confident), only about half of Republicans (47%) say the same (12%% say they are very confident).

Seven in ten adults are also very or somewhat confident that all citizens who wish to vote in congressional elections will be able to do so. There are also partisan differences in these views: Democrats are about 20% less likely than Republicans to express confidence that all citizens who want to vote will be able to do so (61% of Democrats versus 83% of Republicans).

Top Election Issues for Republicans and Democrats

About eight in ten voters (78%) say the economy is very important to their vote this fall, making it the top issue out of 15 respondents in the poll. Republicans are especially likely to say the economy is very important to their vote in the fall: 90% say so, compared to 68% of Democrats.

The chart shows the economy is a major issue for voters of both parties, especially Republicans

About two-thirds of Republican voters say immigration (68%), foreign policy (67%) and violent crime (67%) are very important to their vote, while almost as many (62%) say this to about the size and scope of government. Democratic voters are less likely than Republicans to say each of these items is very important, though the gap is particularly pronounced on issues of immigration (only 34% of Democrats say immigration is very important to their vote in the fall) and the size and scope of government (only 26% of Democrats say it’s very important to their vote).

By comparison, health care is the top issue for Democratic voters in the fall, with 74% saying it’s very important to their vote; only 44% of Republican voters say the same.

About two-thirds of Democratic voters indicate that voting policies (66%) and education (also 66%) are very important to their vote, slightly higher than the shares of GOP voters naming these issues as very important to them. their vote.

But the partisan gap on climate change is one of the largest in the survey: Democratic voters are 50 percentage points more likely than Republican voters to name it as a significant issue in their vote (64% vs. 14 %) and 40 points more. likely to say the same about issues of race and ethnicity (54% vs. 14%).

Only a third of voters say the coronavirus outbreak will be a very big issue when they vote this fall, though Democrats are more than twice as likely as Republicans to say so (46% vs. 19%).

Congress Voting Preferences

Overall, voters are split on who they would vote for if the election were held today: 43% say they would vote for the Republican candidate in their riding, while an equal share say they will vote for the Democratic candidate; 4% say they would vote for another candidate and 10% say they are not sure.

Chart shows large differences in age, race and ethnicity, education in voters' medium-term preferences

There are big differences in voting preference based on race and ethnicity, age, and education.

About half of white voters (51%) say they would vote for the Republican nominee, while 37% would vote Democrat. On the other hand, a large majority of black voters (72%) say they prefer the Democratic candidate, while 7% prefer the Republican candidate. Asian voters favor Democratic candidates over Republican candidates by a ratio of about two to one (59% to 31%); Hispanic voters also prefer Democrats (50%) to Republicans (28%).

As in recent elections, older voters remain more supportive of Republican candidates than Democratic candidates: half of voters aged 65 and over say they would vote for a Republican if the election were held today, while 41% say they would vote for a Democrat. In contrast, about half of voters under 30 say they would vote for a Democratic candidate if the election were held today, while 29% say they would support the GOP candidate. Voters under 30 are also about twice as likely as voters 65 and older to not know who they would vote for (13% versus 7%).

Voters with a college degree, especially those with a postgraduate degree, favor Democrats more than Republicans this fall, while Republicans have an advantage among voters with a college education or less .

About Mark A. Tomlin

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