GW Poll Finds Opportunities for Democrats in Midterm Elections

Voting station in Arlington, Virginia
August 23, 2018


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A new edition of the George Washington University Politics Poll finds a generally unfavorable environment for Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections.

The poll, conducted in late July and early August, found that major White House policies, including family separation at the border and repealing the Affordable Care Act mandate, did not receive support from a majority of voters.

President Trump's job approval also remains negative with 45 percent approval. While 46 percent of respondents strongly disapprove of the president's performance, only 28 percent strongly approve.

Democrats continue to have an advantage in the generic ballot for House elections, 45-38, and more Democrats reported being politically active — including sharing political opinions on social media, signing a petition, making donations and attending political rallies. These activism indicators are similar to the results from the May 2018 poll.

On party strategy, self-identified Democrats appear more divided than self-identified Republicans on the best strategy for their party to take in the upcoming election. One in five self-identified Democrats, 21 percent, said the party should take more liberal positions to motivate the base, while a quarter, 26 percent, said candidates should take more moderate positions to appeal to independents and swing voters. Nearly one third, 37 percent, want candidates to take whatever positions will help them win.

Republican respondents, by contrast, appear to be uniting around President Trump. More than half, 59 percent, said candidates should support the president’s positions to motivate the party’s base while only eight percent said candidates should break with the president and 21 percent said the best strategy would be for candidates to take the positions they believe will help them win their districts.

Asked what might influence voters in the upcoming election, only 35 percent of those surveyed believe Russian misinformation is likely to influence voters in 2018. However, a majority, 53 percent, believe misinformation on social media will be influential.

The GW Politics Poll is managed jointly by GW's School of Media and Public Affairs, Graduate School of Political Management and Department of Political Science. YouGov, a respected leader in online polling, conducted the academic, nonpartisan research poll for GW.

This is the second of four surveys conducted with the same group of respondents to track views from a sample of the American population during and after the 2018 midterm election campaign. The same respondents will be interviewed once more before the elections on Nov. 6, 2018.

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