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The first NYT poll of voter sentiment before midterm elections, with a cautionary note

The poll shows an impressively close division on the question of which preference for which party should control Congress in 2023-24 (Dems 41; Repubs 40).

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MinnPost file photo by Karl Pearson-Cater

Over the weekend, the New York Times published its first (many to follow of course) poll of voter sentiment heading into the midterms. An obvious thought, followed by the highlights of the poll’s findings.

The obvious thought: It would be dumb to think this tells us how the midterms will turn out. It’s July. The elections are in November. The poll shows an impressively close division on the question of which preference for which party should control Congress in 2023-24 (Dems 41; Repubs 40). There will be plenty of ups and downs between now and then. Perhaps the best overview of the findings would be to just copy the boldface lead-ins to the analysis points, which go like this: 

Voters are not happy.

Joe Biden is in trouble.

Democrats would rather see someone else get the party’s nomination in 2024.

Trump isn’t doing great, either.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is already at 25 percent in an early test of the Republican primary. 

And a few more subheds with short summaries backing them up: 

The midterm race starts out close: When asked which party they hope will control Congress after the midterms, the response was a statistically insignificant difference of Dems 41; Repubs 40.

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Many voters do not want to see a 2020 rematch. (“Mr. Biden still led Mr. Trump in a hypothetical 2024 matchup, 44 percent to 41 percent. What was surprising: Ten percent of respondents volunteered that they would not vote at all or would vote for someone else if those were the two candidates, even though the interviewer didn’t offer those choices as an option.”)

The news is helping Democrats. (Around 30 percent of voters combined said topics related to guns, abortion and democracy were the most important problem facing the country, and Democrats had a wide lead among these voters.) 

Support for abortion rights is up (Sixty-five percent said they thought abortion should be completely or mostly legal, up from 60 percent in the last poll.)

Democrats could use a break. “The news has been bad for Democrats, from recent court rulings to their frustrations in trying to stop mass shootings, but for the moment it may be helping the Democratic Party. Around 30 percent of voters combined said topics related to guns, abortion and democracy were the most important problem facing the country, and Democrats had a wide lead among these voters. It’s a big change from earlier in the cycle, when immigration, crime and questions about school curriculums seemed likely to dominate the campaign — and help Republicans.”

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There are signs of a shifting racial coalition. “For the first time in a Times/Siena national poll, Democrats’ share of support from white college graduates was higher than for nonwhite voters… In 2016 congressional elections, Democrats won more than 70 percent of nonwhite voters while losing among white college graduates.”

Voters of both parties are increasingly skeptical about the country’s institutions and its future. (The pessimism was strongest among the young.)

If you can access the Times, the full piece is here.