High Independent Support Helps Give GOP Edge in Midterm Poll

High Independent Support Helps Give GOP Edge in Midterm Poll president joe biden laughs during a debate in 2020 in los angeles President Joe Biden (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

By Brian Freeman | Monday, 02 May 2022 02:46 PM

Independents are breaking toward the GOP by seven percentage points, helping to give Republicans running for Congress the strongest public support they have seen in a decade, with just six months to go until the midterm election, according to a PBS News Hour/NPR/Marist poll released on Monday.

This signals possible dismal days ahead for the Democrats, because the GOP rarely polls ahead of Democrats on the generic ballot, said political scientist Lara Brown, who directs the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University.

Other results from the poll include:

  • The public trusts Republicans more than Democrats to control inflation by 21 percentage points.
  • Although the poll shows that those surveyed think Democrats do a better job than Republicans on handling the coronavirus, abortion, education, voting rights, election security, LGBTQ rights and climate change, Brown said most people see less urgency in those issues now compared to combating inflation or mitigating fallout from the war in Ukraine.
  • President Joe Biden’s approval rating for his handling of the economy has taken a beating, with 55% disapproving, 17 percentage points more than a year ago.
  • The percentage of Americans who have an unfavorable impression of Biden has hit its highest level (53%) since he was campaigning for the presidency in September 2019.
  • Overall, 41% of Americans approve of Biden’s job as president. Only 16% say they strongly approve, with 37% strongly disapproving.
  • Although 53% approve of how Biden has handled the coronavirus pandemic, about half of parents with children said they don’t like how he has dealt with the issue.
  • A majority of Latino voters picked Biden in the last presidential election, but about half now say they would vote for a Republican.
  • Among the last six presidents, four had approval ratings below 50% at this point in their first terms, according to Gallup, and their political parties lost dozens of House seats during midterms. Just one of those four presidents (Donald Trump) improved his approval rating between April and November, and Republicans still lost control of the House in 2018.

The survey was conducted April 19-26. It polled 1,377 American adults (margin of error of 3.4 percentage points) and 1,162 registered voters (margin of error of 3.7 percentage points).

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