For the first time since 2014, voters say they're more likely to vote Republican in the congressional midterm elections, a new poll shows. That snapshot has been meaningful in the past: GOP candidates led by 5 percentage points before the vote eight years ago and went on to win the House and Senate, NPR reports. In the new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, 47% of respondents said they're more likely to vote for the Republican nominee in their district, with 44% saying they'll probably back the Democrat. The margin of error is 3.7 points.
The breakdown among independents is even more encouraging for Republicans. That group prefers Republicans by 45% to 38%, with only 1 in 10 saying that haven't decided yet, per PBS. As recently as November, Democrats were up 5 points when survey respondents were asked the same question. Because congressional districts have been drawn to generally help Republicans, Democrats need to be ahead going into the midterms to win. They led by 6 points before winning the House in 2018.
It's unusual for Republicans to outpoll Democrats on the generic question, said a political scientist at George Washington University. But inflation is a major issue now, and the big difference is that voters think Republicans can do a better job of handling it by a whopping 21 percentage points. They prefer Democrats on many other issues, including the pandemic, abortion, climate change, election security, and LGBTQ rights. But they see those and other issues as less pressing, Lara Brown said. But much could change before November, she cautioned, saying the political situation is too volatile now to pick a winning party. (Read more 2022 midterms stories.)