By John Haughey
With inflation eating into consumers’ wallets and purses, it’s no surprise the economy will be first and foremost on Americans’ minds when casting their 2022 midterm ballots.
A Gallup poll released on Oct. 31 confirms that the most basic of kitchen-table issues—the cost of groceries and gas—will influence how 98 percent of Americans vote in the Nov. 8 elections.
Forty-nine percent of respondents said the economy will be “extremely important,” 36 percent said it will be “very important,” and 13 percent said “moderately important” in determining who they vote for, according to an Oct. 3 to Oct. 20 random-sample survey of 1,009 adults living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Only 2 percent of respondents in the final Gallup poll before the election said the economy is “not that important” in gauging how they will cast their midterm ballots.
The 49 percent who identified the economy as “extremely important” in influencing how they’ll vote is the highest since 2010, when 63 percent of Gallup poll respondents said so in the wake of the 2007–09 recession.
The economy is more of a determining factor among poll respondents who identified as registered Republicans, with 64 percent saying it was “extremely important,” compared to 47 percent of independents and 33 percent of Democrats.
Of the other issues identified by Gallup poll respondents as “extremely important,” abortion was cited by 42 percent, and crime, which has emerged as a late-campaign issue, was noted by 40 percent of respondents.
The Gallup poll is the latest in a series of surveys that point to economic uncertainties fueled by a nearly 40-year high in inflation as the top issue among voters in the midterm elections.
Voters Trust Republicans More on Economy
Meanwhile, more than 42 percent of respondents cited the economy as the No. 1 issue when asked in a Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 POLITICO/Morning Consult poll what is “the top set of issues on your mind when you cast your vote for federal offices such as U.S. Senate or Congress?” That survey of more than 2,000 registered voters across the country was published on Oct. 5.
The second-most salient issue among the six presented to POLITICO/Morning Consult respondents—“Women’s Issues – like birth control, abortion, and equal pay”—tallied just 14 percent, significantly less than concerns about the economy.
According to an Oct. 9 to Oct. 12 Fox News poll of 1,206 randomly selected registered voters nationwide published on Oct. 16, a whopping 89 percent cited economic concerns as a major issue that will influence how they vote, with 53 percent saying they trust Republicans to better address those concerns, compared to 40 percent who trust Democrats more.
An Oct. 21 to Oct. 22 ABC News/Ipsos “probability sample” of 686 adults, including 618 registered voters, published on Oct. 23, confirms that Americans trust Republicans to do a better job handling the economy, with 36 percent saying they trust Republican candidates on this issue, 24 percent saying they trust Democrats, and a significant 31 percent saying they don’t trust either party to do a competent job.
Partisan Priorities Confirm Turnout is Key
In the Gallup poll, after the economy, abortion, and crime, the issues rated as “extremely important” were gun policy (38 percent), immigration (37 percent), relations with Russia (31 percent), and climate change (26 percent).
There’s little change in the order of “extremely important” issues from its June poll, Gallup reported in an analysis that accompanied survey results, “with one exception.”
In its June poll, 55 percent of respondents identified both the economy and gun policy as “extremely important.” That survey was conducted shortly after the May 24 elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
“None of the changes (between June and October polls) on the other issues are statistically meaningful, including the five-point decline in importance of the economy,” Gallup stated.
Climate change ranked No. 1 of the seven issues rated as “not that important” by respondents in how they will cast Nov. 8 votes.
The top three election issues for Republican respondents were the economy (64 percent), immigration (55 percent), and crime (55 percent).
Democrats identified abortion, climate change, and gun policy as their election priorities, at 51, 49, and 39 percent, respectively.
For independents, the top three election issues were the economy (47 percent), abortion (38 percent), and crime (37 percent).
The partisan shifts in voter priorities in the Gallup poll confirm that the key to victory on Nov. 8 will be which party and what candidates generate the biggest turnouts among supporters. A number of recent surveys, including an Oct. 10 to Oct. 16 Pew Research nationwide poll of 5,098 adults, including 3,993 registered voters, give Republicans a perceived, although slim, “motivation” advantage.
According to the Pew Research poll, published on Oct. 20, more than 72 percent of overall respondents who identified as registered voters said they are “extremely/very motivated to vote,” with 80 percent of those who identified as Republicans set to do so and 79 percent of those identified as Democrats eager to cast ballots.
About 65 percent of overall respondents who identified as registered voters said it “really matters” which party wins control of Congress, including 76 percent who said they were Republicans and 72 percent who said they were Democrats.
Those who identified as Republicans in the Pew Research poll are significantly more likely than Democratic voters to say they’ve “given a lot of thought” to the upcoming congressional elections, 49 percent to 38 percent.