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Tracking the race for Congress
If the congressional elections were held today, Democrats would have a minor advantage among the U.S. electorate, according to our ongoing tracking of the generic ballot over seven months into the Republican Party’s control of the House.
Democrats Hold a Narrow Generic Ballot Lead
Our Aug. 4-6 data found that 45% of voters would back the Democratic candidate in their district while 43% would support the Republican. Another 12% of voters are uncertain. Each figure is roughly in line with both parties’ standing by the metric since the midterm election, with Democrats holding a narrow lead and about 1 in 10 voters undecided.
However, congressional Democrats’ standing today pales in comparison to a 6-percentage point lead they held over Republicans among registered voters (43% to 37%) in an August 2019 Morning Consult survey conducted at a similar point during the 2020 presidential election cycle.
Furthermore, congressional Democrats this year are trailing their Republican counterparts among independent voters — an alarming difference from four years ago when Donald Trump was in the White House and the Democrats held a House majority.
Congressional Democrats Are Losing Among White Voters, Despite Advantage With College-Educated Whites
Just over a third of independents (35%) would back the Republican candidate in a hypothetical generic election contest, compared with 23% who said the same in the August 2019 survey. That’s due to the fact that far fewer independents are undecided this time around (35% now compared with 43% four years ago), given that the Democratic Party’s level of support among independents (30%) roughly matches its standing at a similar point in the last presidential cycle.
As things stand today, the Democratic Party’s small advantage comes from young people (those under the age of 45) and voters of color. The president’s party is losing among older voters and white Americans.
Similarly to surveys at the presidential level, congressional Democrats' disadvantage among white people is driven largely by the educational divide, with those who don’t have a college degree opting for the generic Republican candidate by 24 points.
Another challenge for Democrats in the coming election is Americans who the Cook Political Report’s Amy Walters dubbed the “meh” voters — those who “somewhat” disapprove of Biden’s job performance. These voters, who make up 14% of the electorate, are split evenly on the generic ballot question. This marks a notable improvement for Republicans given those “meh” voters helped Democrats fend off expected losses in the 2022 election.
Meanwhile, our latest survey shows unanimity among partisans on the generic ballot test — an understandable finding at a time of deep polarization. At 94%, Democrats and Republicans are equally as likely to say they’ll back their party’s generic congressional candidate. However, voters who said they plan to vote for Trump in a hypothetical matchup against Biden are 4 points less likely than the president’s supporters to show party loyalty. This suggests mild unfaithfulness among some of Trump’s backers toward the larger GOP.
How Biden may be able to help congressional Democrats
The fates of Biden and congressional Democrats appear closely tied at this early point in the electoral cycle. Our surveys conducted since the midterms show Biden’s advantage over Trump in the hypothetical head-to-head contest nearly matches Democrats’ advantage over Republicans in the generic ballot test.
Very Few Voters Are Separating Their Congressional and Presidential Vote Choices
At the time this tracking data was accessed, Biden led Trump by 1 point while congressional Democrats led Republicans by 2 points. These figures have stayed remarkably close together, and they are almost always within the surveys’ margins of error.
The Democratic Party’s fortunes on Capitol Hill are tied to the race for the White House, and that means Biden, who’s the overwhelming favorite for the 2024 presidential nomination, will likely need to improve his electoral standing in order for the Democrats to retake the House next year. Biden’s job approval rating is stubbornly underwater by 12 points (roughly matching Trump’s standing at a similar point four years ago before his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests helped turn public opinion further against him).
This analysis includes daily data: We survey thousands of U.S. voters every day, producing exclusive daily tracking on their perceptions of President Joe Biden’s job performance.
Did you know? Other, more traditional polls with smaller sample sizes may look noisy or show jumps in support. Our dedication to high-frequency survey research means larger sample sizes of voters and demographics, with more consistency and more stability. Daily data matters.
But it’s not all bad news for the current president, whose leading Republican rival in Trump faces many weaknesses with the larger electorate. Since just before the midterm election, the share of voters who approve of Biden’s handling of a range of issues has improved, and the upswing is most notable on the economy — which consistently ranks as the electorate’s top issue.
Public Opinion of Biden’s Economic Handling Has Improved Since the Midterms
Since October, the share who approve of his handling of the economy has increased from 36% to 43%, while the share who disapprove has declined from 59% to 50%. The improved figures still leave sentiment net negative, but public opinion regarding Biden’s handling of jobs has risen slightly above water over the same period.
These shadow improvements in sentiment about Biden have not yet helped congressional Democrats in terms of voter trust on either issue. But the Biden administration’s ongoing efforts to tout the country’s economic performance under his watch — including a campaign-style blitz from the president and other administration officials to mark the first anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act — could help congressional Democrats if the economy holds and his message breaks through.