Trump has huge influence over Americans' midterm votes

The number of voters who said that the President is a factor in their vote for Congress this year is the hig...

Posted: Oct 18, 2018 1:44 PM
Updated: Oct 18, 2018 1:44 PM

The number of voters who said that the President is a factor in their vote for Congress this year is the highest it's been for any midterm election since Pew began tracking the question in 1982 during Ronald Reagan's first term.

Six in 10 registered voters said President Donald Trump is a factor in a Pew Research Center poll taken in September, including 37% who said they'll cast a ballot to oppose the President and 23% who'll be voting to support him. Just 37% said Trump isn't a factor in their vote for Congress.

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The number of people who are using their vote to oppose Trump is higher than most previous elections where the question was asked, only behind President George W. Bush in early October 2006, when 39% of registered voters said they would use their vote against him, 18% wanted their vote to support the President and 40% didn't factor him in.

Trump is just about as disliked by Democrats as Bush was in 2006. Two-thirds of Democratic voters said their vote is against Trump and 68% said the same about Bush in 2006, during the extremely unpopular Iraq war. During the 2006 midterm election, Democrats won six seats in the Senate and 31 in the House, taking control of both chambers.

But Republicans are slightly more passionate about Trump than they were about Bush. Less than half said their vote for Congress will be in support of the President in August, eight points more than the amount who said the same of Bush.

In 2014, when Democrats lost control of the Senate, a similar two-in-10 said their Congressional vote would be in support of President Obama, and a third said it would be against him. At that point, 45% said he wasn't a factor in their vote.

Trump has been campaigning for a few months now, partnering with endorsed candidates and targeting vulnerable Democratic incumbents in states he won in 2016. But debate remains whether it's beneficial for candidates to align themselves with the President. His controversial statements always appear like they will hurt them, but his approval rating has been relatively stable since the beginning of his Presidency.

Trump is one of the most important issues to voters in the midterms. Forty-five percent said he was extremely important to how they'll be voting for Congress in the August CNN poll. The only issue that was higher in importance than Trump was health care, with 48% percent who said it was extremely important to their vote.

Trump is just a little more of a driver among those who say they'll vote Democratic versus Republican in a generic congressional ballot. Among those who plan to vote for a Democratic candidate in this year's midterm, 49% say that the issue of Trump is extremely important, while 45% who plan to back the Republican say the same. However, those who plan to support the Democrat are much more likely to say that Trump isn't that important to their vote (22%), compared to those who are going to vote Republican (12%), which suggests he could be an important motivator among his base.

The Pew Research Center poll was conducted by Abt Associates September 18 through 24, 2018, among random statewide samples reached on landlines or cell phones by a live interviewer. Results for the full sample of 1,438 registered voters and have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.0 percentage points. During the years 1982, 1986, and 1990, the question was asked by CBS/NYT.

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