With fewer than three weeks to go before the 2022 midterm elections, a new poll shows about three-quarters of Americans believe the United States is on the wrong track.
About 71 percent of voters said the United States is headed in the wrong direction, and only 20 percent said it’s on the right track, according to a poll by Hart Research Associates and Public Opinion Strategies for NBC. Pollsters noted that it is the sixth out of seventh of such polls where the wrong track answer has been higher than 70 percent.
In the same vein, some 20 percent of respondents said they believe the U.S. economy will get better over the next year, 26 percent said it will remain about the same, and 50 percent say it will get worse. The 50-percent figure is the highest number on the question dating back to 1994.
“These are really difficult numbers for Democrats, and they have had them for months,” Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who works with Public Opinion Strategies, told CNBC.
Republican voters, meanwhile, have a “high interest” in the upcoming election, according to the poll. That’s compared to 69 percent for Democrats, it shows.
Some recent polls, including one from the Pew Research Center (pdf), suggest that the key issues are the economy, violent crime, and inflation. An overwhelming majority, or 79 percent, told Pew that the U.S. economy—which has been beset by decades-high inflation—is “very important” and another 61 percent stated that crime is also “very important.”
And a Politico-Morning Consult poll, reported by Politico on Oct. 19, showed about 71 percent of voters are “very concerned” by inflation, which is up 5 percentage points since August. About 42 percent remarked that economic issues such as taxes and jobs were their top issue when deciding who to vote for in November.
The pollsters found that over 90 percent of voters are concerned about the U.S. economy and inflation.
Republicans have repeatedly hammered the Biden administration and Democrats on their policies around oil drilling, record congressional spending, and COVID-19-related lockdowns and mandates, arguing that it has been those policies that have driven inflation and relatively higher gas prices. The consumer price index, a key inflation metric, hit 8.2 percent in September—running near highs not seen since the early 1980s.
Meanwhile, independent pollsters have argued that mainstream polls from the likes of Pew, NBC, and Morning Consult often undercount Republican voters and supporters of former President Donald Trump, continuing a trend from previous years. That’s especially so after President Joe Biden’s ominous speech on Sept. 1 that targeted “MAGA Republicans” while claiming Trump supporters are a threat to U.S. institutions and “our democracy.”
“These submerged voters aren’t answering polls, they aren’t putting stickers on their cars, or signs in their yard—they’re not even posting on social media,” Trafalgar Group pollster Robert Cahaly said in a recent podcast of the trend. “They are underwater. They’re not saying a word to anybody until election day.”