With voter interest in the midterm elections at historic heights, Democrats opened up a 9-point lead over Republicans on the question of who should control Congress after the midterm elections, while President Donald Trump's approval rating remained unchanged at 40%, according to the latest IBD/TIPP Poll.
The two top issues for voters in the midterm elections are the economy and health care, which benefit each party. The poll also found that Trump still hasn't closed the deal with the public on his trade policies.
There's no question that the interest in the midterm elections is incredibly high for both Democrats and Republicans. The IBD/TIPP poll, conducted from October 25 through November 3, finds that 74% of respondents say they're more interested in the current election than previous ones.
The poll found that 50% of likely voters say they'd prefer a Congress controlled by Democrats, with 41% saying they want Republicans to keep control, for a net Democratic lead in this "generic ballot" question of 9 points, which is up from 2 points last month (Dems 45%, GOP 43%).
Economy Helps The GOP
However, on the plus side for Republicans, Trump's net approval rating remained steady at 40%, while the share who disapprove of his job performance dropped a point to 53%. His net favorability rating gained slightly as well, to -14 (40% favorable to 54% unfavorable) from last month's -16.
Trump also gained 1.9% on the IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index, which includes several questions on leadership and favorability and provides a broader measure of the public's assessment of his presidency.
Another benefit for Republicans: The economy ranks at the top of the list of voter priorities, with 77% of likely voters saying it was of high importance when making their decision on which candidate they'll support. The economy is also one of the top priorities for independent voters, the IBD/TIPP poll found.
Trump and congressional Republicans have clear bragging rights over the current economic boom and the spate of good economic news, including strong GDP growth, faster-than-expected job creation and rising wages.
Trump gets high marks on his handling of the economy, with 47% giving him an "excellent" or "good" rating (up from 46% last month), and just 35% giving him poor marks. More than half the public (56%) say the economy is improving.
In contrast, Democrats have offered no concrete proposals on the economy, and have promised to roll back his pro-growth tax cuts and deregulatory efforts.
"Trump gets top marks for his handling of the economy and creating jobs," said Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, which directs the IBD/TIPP Poll. "The economy has been a decisive issue, and Americans have always voted with their pocket books."
"Importantly, Trump's strength on to this issue might not be fully captured by pre-election polling before the midterms, and has the potential to produce a few positive surprises for the GOP on Tuesday," Mayur said.
Trade and Immigration
On the other hand, Trump still hasn't closed the deal with the public on immigration or his trade policies.
On immigration, the majority of the public still opposes building a wall along the southern border (53% are against, 43% support). That's despite the intense focus by Trump in recent weeks on the thousands-strong caravan moving toward the U.S./Mexican border. Not surprisingly, 87% of Democrats oppose the wall, while 85% of Republicans back it. But 57% of independents oppose building the wall, and just 38% support it.
Nor has Trump convinced the public that his trade policy is helping the economy.
Fewer than one quarter of those polled (23%) say that tariffs are helping the economy, while 44% say they're hurting it. Even among Republicans, fewer than half (42%) say Trump's tariffs are helping. Among independents, the split is 20% helping and 45% hurting.
And a substantial majority (72%) say they're worried that tariffs will raise prices, including 70% of independents and 55% of Republicans.
However, 72% of the public say China is engaged in unfair trade practices that hurt U.S. workers.
Midterm Elections and Health Care
Another sign of trouble for Republicans is the fact health care ties the economy as a top concern of voters, with 77% listing it as very important to their voting decisions.
Democrats have made attacks on Republicans over health care the focus of their midterm campaigns. They claim — inaccurately — that Republicans will take away protections against pre-existing conditions for health insurance. And Republicans, after having failed to repeal and replace ObamaCare, have been largely playing defense on the issue.
The other issues, in order of important to voters: national security (which 72% say it is of high importance), the Supreme Court (70%), Immigration issues (66%), trade and tariffs (59%), and climate change (50%).
But there were wide differences on these rankings based on party affiliation.
National security comes at the top of the Republicans' list of concerns (89% said it was of high importance), the economy came in a close second at 87%.
For Democrats, health care tops the list (85% say it's of high importance), followed by climate change (79%).
Among independents, health care ranks No. 1 (78% say it's of high importance). Economy/jobs comes in a close second at 73%.
"The deciding issues for the midterm election depends on which party you belong to. Democrats say health care, and climate change are their top two issues; Republicans cite national security, and economy and jobs are most important to them. Health care, economy and jobs are the top issues for independents," said Mayur.
Methodology: IBD/TIPP conducted the latest poll from October 25 through November 3. It includes responses from 900 adults nationwide, who were asked questions by live interviewers on phones. The poll's margin of error is +/-3.3 percentage points. The "generic ballot" question and ranking of issues by importance were asked of a subset of 798 adults deemed to be likely voters. (Toplines from the poll will be posted here during the week.)
The IBD/TIPP Poll has been credited as being the most accurate poll in the past four presidential elections, and was one of only two that correctly predicted the outcome of the November 2016 presidential election.
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