2022 Midterm Elections: Democrats Hold Narrow Edge on the Generic Ballot

Voters were asked whom they are more likely to vote for if the election for their congressional district were held today. Responses shown after Aug. 10, 2022, are among likely voters, not all voters.
Data points reflect 3-day moving averages of representative samples of at least 7,947 registered U.S. voters, with unweighted margins of error of +/-1 percentage point.
Updated: Sept. 27, 2022 | By Eli Yokley

President Joe Biden’s governing majorities are on the line in this November’s midterm elections, with voters set to decide whether to give the president’s Democratic Party another two years of unified control of Capitol Hill or to impose a check on the president for the second half of his term. Ahead of the decisive November contests, Morning Consult will update this page each week with survey research revealing how the electorate is feeling, what they’re hearing about their leaders and what they say is driving their vote choice. 

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Key Takeaways

Democrats Maintain Generic Ballot Lead: Congressional Democrats continue to hold an advantage over their Republican counterparts on the generic ballot (48% to 44%), with another 7% of likely voters undecided six weeks from Election Day.

Biden’s Approval Rating Improvements Stall: Biden’s job approval rating had generally been on the upswing throughout much of August and September, but that improvement appears to be stalling in recent days. The latest survey found 45% approve of the president’s job performance, down 2 percentage points from a week ago, and 54% disapprove, up 2 points over that time frame. 

Republican Enthusiasm Is on the Decline: The share of Republicans who said they are “extremely” or “very” enthusiastic about the midterm elections has dropped to 54% from a 65% high reached in mid-August, giving Democrats an enthusiasm advantage for the second week in a row — and the fifth time in 2022. 

Fewer Voters See Biden Prioritizing The Economy: Voters’ perception that Biden is making the economy a top issue has dropped over the past month, from 50% in mid-August to 45% now. Even fewer voters (37%) see Biden focusing on bringing down the costs of goods, compared with 44% in mid-August. That has come as voters have become more likely to report hearing negative news about the economy.

Immigration Rising as a Midterm Issue: There’s been a subtle rise in the share of voters who cite immigration as “very important” to their midterm election decision, from 48% to 54%, over the past two weeks as Republican governors have pushed to elevate the issue. Over the same time period, voters have become more likely to report hearing negative news about immigration.

Biden’s Approval Ratings Ahead of the 2022 Midterm Elections

Share of voters who approve or disapprove of President Joe Biden’s job performance

Responses shown after Aug. 10, 2022, are among likely voters, not all voters.
Data points reflect 3-day moving averages of representative samples of at least 7,973 registered U.S. voters, with unweighted margins of error of +/-1 percentage point.
  • Biden gets positive marks from 45% of likely voters while 54% who disapprove. It marks a slight decline in recent weeks, driven in part by independent voters.
  • Among Democrats who are likely to vote, 85% approve of Biden’s job performance, including 46% who do so strongly. Both figures are consistent with his intraparty standing throughout August and September.

Voter Enthusiasm for the 2022 Midterm Elections

Share of voters who are “extremely” or “very” enthusiastic about voting in the midterm elections

Morning Consult/Politico surveys conducted among representative samples of roughly 2,000 registered voters each, with margins of error of +/-2 percentage points.
  • Democratic enthusiasm for voting in the midterm elections has generally been on the upswing since late spring, but surveys conducted throughout the year show that excitement on the left surged after the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.
  • Anger appears to be fueling these surges. When voters are asked how well the word “angry” describes their feelings about the midterm elections, Republicans have no advantage on this key metric for enthusiasm, a notable difference from 2018, when Democrats were far more likely than Republicans to report feeling angry about the midterms.

The Buzz Around the 2022 Midterm Elections

Net buzz – the share of voters who heard something positive over the previous week minus the share who heard something negative – about the following politicians, institutions and topics:

Surveys conducted weekly in 2022, among representative samples of roughly 2,000 registered U.S. voters each, with unweighted margins of error of +/-2 percentage points.
  • While the average voter is still more likely to hear negative news about the economy, positive perceptions about it have improved significantly in recent months amid solid jobs reports and, perhaps most notably, falling consumer gasoline costs.
  • Voters are far more likely to hear positive news about Biden and Democrats in Congress than they are about Trump or the Republicans, but Republicans on Capitol Hill appear to be getting better marks than the unpopular former president. The gap between perceived negative news regarding congressional Republicans and Trump suggests some voters may also be drawing a line between the former president and his party when it comes to their midterm calculus.

The Top Issues Driving Voters’ Decisions for the 2022 Midterm Elections

The share of voters who said the following are “very important” when deciding whom to vote for in the 2022 elections:

Surveys conducted weekly in 2022, among representative samples of roughly 2,000 registered U.S. voters each, with unweighted margins of error of +/-2 percentage points.
  • The economy is obviously the electorate’s most important issue this year, but that is followed by several issues with mixed implications. Roughly half of voters say gun violence and abortion are “very” important when considering their vote this year, two issues that could likely benefit the Democratic Party, while a similar share elevates immigration, where voters favor the GOP.
  • Very few voters see Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a top issue, similar to the share who are elevating COVID-19 when thinking about their vote this year, two issues that were much more salient earlier in 2022.

What Voters See Biden Prioritizing

The share of voters who say President Joe Biden is making the following a “top priority”:

Surveys conducted weekly in 2022, among representative samples of roughly 2,000 registered U.S. voters each, with unweighted margins of error of +/-2 percentage points.
  • What voters see Biden prioritizing is often responsive to what is driving headlines. As issues such as Russia’s war or the pandemic faded from the front pages, voters became more likely to see Biden as focused on abortion and gun policy – which were propelled to prominence after the Supreme Court’s ruling and the Uvalde shooting.
  • The share of voters who see the president prioritizing bringing down the costs of goods or the economy hit a peak in late August as gas prices were falling, but has dropped in recent weeks.

Voter Trust of Democrats and Republicans in Congress

Congressional Democrats’ trust advantage over congressional Republicans on the following issues:

Issues included in the average are: climate change, COVID-19, education, energy, gun policy, health care, immigration, jobs, national security, Medicare and Social Security, the economy, the environment and voting rights. Inflation was included starting in March 2022.
Morning Consult/Politico surveys conducted in 2021 and 2022 among representative samples of roughly 2,000 registered U.S. voters each, with unweighted margins of error of +/-2 percentage points.
  • Congressional Democrats have maintained a narrow advantage, on average, over Republicans when it comes to voter trust throughout all of Biden’s presidency. However, Republicans are more trusted by the electorate to handle the economy, which is far and away voters’ top issue for the midterms.
  • Voter trust lines tend to move in tandem – if the average voter is less likely to trust Democrats to handle the economy, they’re seemingly less likely to trust them to handle other issues. The one exception in the trend data appears on gun policy, where the party in charge saw a surge of voter trust as they, with the help of some Senate Republicans, passed legislation on the issue after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

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About

Methodology

The latest national results on the generic ballot and Biden’s approval rating reflect surveys conducted Sept. 23-25, 2022, among 9,062 likely voters. Morning Consult’s reported results among likely voters reflect data based on a 3-day moving average, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point.

Morning Consult conducts daily interviews with a representative sample of roughly 4,000 registered voters in the United States via stratified sampling based on age, gender, and language (English/Spanish). This daily sample is weighted based on age, education, ethnicity, gender, geographic region, home ownership, marital status and 2020 presidential vote history.

Our likely voter model — which went into effect on Aug. 9, 2022 — includes any registered voters who say they are at least an “8” on a 1-10 point scale, where “1” means an individual will definitely not vote in the November 2022 midterm elections for Congress and “10” means an individual will definitely vote in November.

Morning Consult’s reported results among registered voters reflect data gathered on a weekly or biweekly basis from a nationally representative sample of roughly 2,000 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

About Morning Consult

Morning Consult is a global decision intelligence company changing how modern leaders make smarter, faster, better decisions. The company pairs its proprietary high-frequency data with applied artificial intelligence to better inform decisions on what people think and how they will act. Learn more at morningconsult.com.

Email press@morningconsult.com to speak with a member of the Morning Consult team.

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