Politics EXCLUSIVE: 100 days before the midterms, Americans aren't happy...

EXCLUSIVE: 100 days before the midterms, Americans aren’t happy about their options, poll shows


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  • Democrats lead the congressional ballot 44%-40%, better than the same split in June.
  • In every demographic group, most Americans say the country is on the wrong track.
  • Top points? Only the economy, abortion and inflation are cited by double digits.
  • At stake is the power to pass legislation and launch an investigation in November.

A hundred days before the midterms, Americans are worried about the future and unhappy with their options.

A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll shows Democrats with a 44%-40% advantage over Republicans on the congressional ballot, slightly better than the 40%-40% split found in June. But the gloom about the country’s economy and its politics still poses major hurdles to Democratic hopes of avoiding significant losses in November.

By 47%-42%, voters say they want to elect a Congress that largely cooperates with President Joe Biden rather than him.

At stake in November are the power to pass legislation and launch investigations — whether into the Jan. 6 coup or Hunter Biden’s finances — and the prospects for cooperation between Congress and the president during the second two years of his term.

“Everything seems to be in flux,” said James English, 60, a Republican-leaning independent from Sugar Valley, Texas, who was called to the survey. Asked which issue was most important to his vote, he said, “Stability in general, whether it’s economic or personal security.”

“It feels a little uncomfortable, because the bipartisanship makes everyone so angry and so resentful of the other party,” Cherish Derrickson, 23, a Democratic law student from Lexington, Kentucky, said in a follow-up interview. “I wouldn’t necessarily say the country is burning down, but it’s definitely going backwards, especially with taking away women’s reproductive rights.
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By 5-1, 76%-15%, pollsters say the country is headed in the wrong direction rather than the right one. Most people in every demographic group — across party lines and region, race and age — agree on that.

The mood is even grimmer in a USA Today/Suffolk poll taken this time in 2018, ahead of the first midterms of Donald Trump’s presidency. Americans then said by 55%-34% that the nation was on the wrong track — not a rosy assessment, but more optimistic by double digits than today. Trump’s approval rating then was 40%-56%, almost exactly the same as Biden’s current approval rating of 39%-56%.

That fall, Republicans gained two seats in the Senate but lost 40 seats and their majority in the House.

The new survey of 1,000 registered voters taken by landline and cellphone from Friday through Monday has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Economic concerns cause debate

Concerns about the economy and inflation are driving the political debate. Growth figures scheduled for release on Thursday will show whether the economy has contracted for two consecutive quarters, the usual definition of a recession, but 50% of Americans say a recession has already arrived.

Only 9% say the economy is now in recovery.

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In response to an open-ended question, 20% cite the economy in general and another 11% inflation as their top issue. The only other concern to reach double figures is abortion, at 16%, an issue that was overturned by last month’s Supreme Court decision recognizing abortion access as a constitutionally protected right.

Every other issue, including the hottest issues on the political scene, is far behind: immigration/border control at 5%, gun control at 3%, climate change/environment at 3%, health care at 3%, voting rights/integrity at 2%, Education/Student Loan at 1%.
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The COVID-19 epidemic is not registered at all.

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“For these respondents, a recession is not an assumption; it’s a reality,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk Political Research Center. “Low-income households have been hit particularly hard, forced to make critical allocation choices for every dollar at their disposal.”

What matters to Julie Clifford, 62, a Republican from Burleson, Texas, is the economy. The retired engineer said the highest inflation rate in four decades has made things difficult for people like him who live on fixed incomes. “We just have to make choices about what we do, and what we planned to do in retirement and can’t now because we have to look for money for the basics.”

She is not alone. 58% of people surveyed say they are going out to eat less because of inflation. Almost half, 48%, report driving less; 45% are cutting back on groceries; And 45% are postponing or canceling travel or vacation plans.

Among households with annual incomes below $50,000, 70% eat less, 60% cut back on groceries and 60% drive less.

Low marks for Biden and Trump

Biden’s job approval rating is essentially unchanged from the USA Today polls in February and June. By 3-1, those who “strongly” disapprove outnumber those who “strongly” approve, 45%-15%.

Even among Democrats, while 77% approve, only 35% “strongly” approve.

An approval rating that low traditionally signals a significant loss for the president’s party in the midterm elections, which will be precisely 100 days away on Sunday. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report now predicts Republicans will pick up 15 to 30 House seats, more than the four the GOP needs to flip to take control. The Senate, now split 50-50, is harder to predict.

But Trump has been no more than a mixed blessing for the GOP. By nearly 3-1, 44%-16%, those surveyed say Trump’s endorsement would make them less likely to support the congressional candidate, rather than more likely.

Even among Republicans, only 38% say their support makes them more likely to support the candidate; 53% say it will not be affected.

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The strongest enthusiasm seems to be, well, for someone else.

Six in 10, including 64% of Democrats and 46% of Republicans, say a third party or multiple other parties are necessary. Only 35% of Republicans, 24% of Democrats and 15% of independents say the two major parties do a good job of representing their political views.

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“Trump kind of stirred the pot a little bit for everybody, and it seems like he’s divided our country to where there’s no conversation going on for the American people,” said Daniel Cobb, 34, a Republican and Trump supporter from Tucson. , Arizona. “So it’s like a divorced couple who have kids and stay together for the kids, even though they don’t realize that you’re all infecting your kids.”

Cobb, a real estate appraiser, fears that partisan battles mean political leaders are “forgetting us as Americans in our everyday lives.”

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