Washington

Democrats in Congress Have Started to Win Back Voters’ Trust

Republicans still retain an edge on economic issues — but it’s shrinking

Photograph of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) at a gun control rally in Washington, D.C., on June 8, 2022. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Congressional Democrats are trailing their Republican counterparts in voter trust on key issues such as the economy and inflation, but recent Morning Consult/Politico survey data suggests an improving political environment for the Hill’s governing majority ahead of the midterm elections.

Congressional Democrats Have Started to Recover Voter Trust

Tracking 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.
Surveys conducted in 2021 and 2022 among representative samples of roughly 2,000 registered voters each, with unweighted margins of error of +/-2 percentage points.
Voters increasingly trust Democrats 
  • Congressional Democrats have an average advantage of 6 percentage points (45% to 39%) over congressional Republicans when voters are asked who they trust to handle a range of 14 issues. That edge has steadily increased since early April, when the two parties were essentially tied on the question.
  • The Democrats’ hold their biggest advantage over the GOP on the climate and the environment, but the president’s party also leads on issues such as health care, voting rights, COVID-19, energy and guns — the latter of which surged amid Washington’s response to the Uvalde, Texas, mass shooting.
  • When it comes to the pocketbook issues, the top concern for the bulk of voters this year, congressional Republicans have a double-digit trust advantage on inflation (47% to 36%) and a smaller edge on the economy generally (46% to 39%). While trust in Republicans has held mostly steady, the share who trust Democrats to handle inflation and the economy increased from 30% and 33%, respectively, after rising prices appeared to help drive the numbers to mid-June lows. 
Parsing the potential reason for Democrats’ recent resurgence

It’s impossible to say exactly what has helped Democrats win voters’ trust, given the confluence of events in recent weeks. 

There was the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in late June and the elevation by a special House committee of unseemly details about former President Donald Trump’s behavior surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, both of which dinged the Republican Party’s reputation, especially among independents. And while the headlines continue to document a shrinking economy and rising inflation, the price of a gallon of gas has been on the decline since mid-June — just when Democrats standing on the economy reached its low point.

Democrats still trail Republicans in voter trust on a number of key issues, but the improvements represent good news for those working to hold control of the House and Senate, showing that at least some voters may be able to shake off their dim views of President Joe Biden when thinking about their votes in November.

What else you should know about the political environment
  • According to the latest survey, 45% of voters said they were more likely to vote for a Democratic congressional candidate in November, compared with 43% who said they would probably back a Republican. The Democrats’ generic ballot advantage is roughly in line with where it rested through much of July, which was superior to any monthly average since September.
  • At the same time, the majority of voters (59%) disapprove of Biden’s job performance, while 39% approve. That gap between approval and disapproval is slightly wider than it was in mid-June, before congressional Democrats saw their trust advantage improve.

The latest Morning Consult/Politico survey was conducted July 28-31, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,006 registered U.S. voters, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Morning Consult