Voters Poised for Large Midterm Turnout, Opposed to Drastic Policy Actions by President Trump, According to New GW Poll

Inaugural GW Politics Poll Finds Strong Support for Gun Regulations, Openness to Immigration Reform, Opposition to Interference with Special Counsel

June 14, 2018


Jason Shevrin: [email protected], 202-994-5631

Timothy Pierce: [email protected], 202-994-5647 


WASHINGTON (June 13, 2018)—Americans are overwhelmingly engaged in the upcoming 2018 congressional elections, and are poised to split with the president on a number of high-profile policy issues. In the inaugural edition of the George Washington University Politics Poll more than three-quarters (78 percent) of registered voters said they definitely will vote in the November general elections; another 15 percent said they probably will. Only 2 percent said they would definitely not vote. On a generic ballot for U.S. House, voters chose Democrats over Republicans, 45 to 38 percent. Voters also indicated they think their members of Congress care about their political careers and political parties’ agendas more than local communities or “people like you.”

“In two respects, the poll suggests some Democratic advantages that are less visible on the surface,” John Sides, associate professor of political science and a poll co-director, said. “Democratic voters remain more politically engaged than Republican voters on several dimensions—including their willingness to do the spadework of an election campaign. And Democratic incumbents in the U.S. House are perceived more positively than Republican incumbents. Whether that will add up to a veritable ‘wave’ remains to be seen.”

Looking at the big policy issues in Washington, the majority of registered voters polled think immigrants who live in the country illegally should be given an opportunity to become U.S. citizens. The poll, the first edition of a new project studying voters’ attitudes toward political topics in the news, also found strong support for a number of gun regulation proposals. And while voters held mixed impressions of special counsel Robert Mueller, a majority of them opposed any interference in his investigation by President Donald Trump.

More than half (53 percent) of voters polled disapprove of the job Mr. Trump is doing as president, with 46 percent doing so strongly, while 44 percent approve of Mr. Trump’s handling of his duties (28 percent strongly, 16 percent somewhat).

Poll respondents displayed a broad openness to new gun regulations; 58 percent felt laws covering handgun sales should be stricter. Only 12 percent said they should be less strict; 30 percent did not want a change. When asked about specific proposals for new gun laws, 85 percent were in favor of a law preventing persons with a history of mental illness from owning guns. Three-quarters (76 percent) support a required five-day waiting period for gun purchases. Two-thirds support requiring registration of guns in a national registry (66 percent) and raising the minimum age for gun and ammunition purchases to 21 years old (67 percent). The only proposal strongly opposed by a majority of voters was a ban on the sale of all handguns (51 percent with another 18 percent somewhat opposed).

On immigration, most people either strongly (33 percent) or somewhat (30 percent) favor providing a way for those who came to the U.S. illegally to become citizens. Similarly, 64 percent of voters (40 percent strongly and 24 percent somewhat) favor allowing young adults brought into the U.S. illegally to stay and work in the country legally. Voters are still ambivalent, though, on the value of those who immigrated illegally in American society: 41 percent think they make a contribution and 40 percent think they are a drain. Three out of 10 think legal immigration to the U.S. should be easier and 38 percent think it should be harder.

Turning to the investigation into Russian election interference, voters are split on their opinions of special counsel Robert Mueller (39 percent very or somewhat favorable, 39 percent very or somewhat unfavorable) and their confidence in the fairness of his investigation (46 percent very or somewhat confident, 41 percent not too or not at all confident). Despite that divide, majorities believe it would be inappropriate for Mr. Trump to remove Mr. Mueller as special counsel (55 percent) and inappropriate for Mr. Trump to pardon senior members of his administration for related charges (58 percent).

For additional data on politicians’ approval ratings, views on congressional incumbents, national outlook, taxes, health care, transgender restroom policies and more, visit the GW Politics Poll website. For interviews with the professors leading the poll, contact GW’s press office.

The GW Politics Poll is a new project 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 poll was fielded May 14-30, 2018 with a sample of 3,150 registered voters and a margin of error of ±2 percentage points. This is the first of four surveys focused on the 2018 midterm elections. The GW Politics Poll will interview the same respondents twice more before the election and then after the election to track public views over the course of the campaign.

The new GW Politics Poll continues the strong tradition of public opinion research at GW, which includes the GW Battleground Poll, a nationally recognized series of surveys conducted by Republican pollster Ed Goeas of The Tarrance Group and Democratic pollster Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners. The final edition of the GW Battleground Poll was released in March 2018.

YouGov recruits individuals in a variety of ways into their panel and then uses sample matching to create a representative sample from this nonrandomly selected pool. YouGov has constructed a sampling frame of U.S. citizens from the American Community Survey, including data on age, race, gender, education, marital status, number of children under 18, family income, employment status, citizenship, state and metropolitan area.