With less than three weeks before Election Day, the headline in most recent polling is that the Republicans have eked out a slight edge over Democrats with inflation and the economy remaining the top issue. The shift is reportedly being driven by independent women who’ve prioritized their budgets over reproductive rights—the latter on which Democrats have been campaigning heavily this year.
But a deep dive beyond the headlines into the many detailed questions pollsters ask paints a vivid picture about the character of the country.
We’re Getting Along (or Putting Up) With Our Families
An October 9-12 New York Times/Siena College survey of 792 registered voters asked, “Have you had any disagreements recently with family or friends over political issues that hurt your relationship?” An overwhelming majority of 80% responded, no.
It probably then should not come as a surprise that when asked whether other people’s political views tell “whether someone is a good person,” only 14% of those voters surveyed said political views told them “a lot” about someone’s goodness, while 35% said it told them a little and 39% said politics didn’t tell them anything about the goodness of another person. Further, responses broke roughly even between men and women, as well as between Democrats and Republicans.
Another ethically-charged question from the Times/Siena: should Presidents “follow existing rules, even if that prevents them from doing what they think is best”? Sixty-two percent (62%) of voters responded, yes. When broken up along party lines, Independents were the most emphatic, with 68% responding yes versus 61% of Democrats and 58% of Republicans.
The poll also divided the answer among how voters cast their ballots in 2020. Sixty-four percent (64%) of Biden voters versus 61% of Trump voters said a President should follow existing rules, even if that prevents them from doing what they think is best.
We Trust in Elections but Are Sour on Other Institutions
An October 6-10 Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll surveyed 1,121 adults.
It asked, “How much confidence do you have that the votes in the 2022 midterm elections will be counted accurately?” Nearly half (47%) said a great deal or quite a bit, compared to 28% who answered only a little or none at all.
That’s even though just 25% answered yes to the question, “Are you satisfied with the state of individual rights and freedoms in the United States?” which dropped from 34% who answered yes in October 2018.
Meanwhile, we have middling enthusiasm for our political parties. Just 27% of those surveyed were optimistic while 39% were pessimistic for the future of the Democratic Party; another 33% were neither optimistic nor pessimistic. As for the future of the GOP, of those surveyed 21% were optimistic, 46% pessimistic and 28% neither.
And while a lot of polls will ask respondents their feelings on the state of the entire country, AP/NORC asked, “Are you satisfied with the way things are going in your local community?” To this, 37% said yes (compared to 44% in September 2019 and 47% in December 2018).
Both Parties Are Seen as “Extreme”
An October 12-15 CBS/YouGov poll of 2,068 registered voters found the majority of those surveyed saw both the Democratic and the Republican Party as “extreme,” and eight in 10 voters in each party saw the opposing party that way.
The view was split rather evenly, with 55% of those surveyed saying the Republican Party was extreme and 54% saying the Democratic Party was extreme. The other top three qualities those surveyed used to describe the Republican Party were reasonable (49%), strong (48%), and effective (45%). The Democratic Party was described as weak (52%), reasonable (50%) and effective (42%).
When asked whether they’d consider voting for a candidate from the opposing party, 8% of Republicans said yes with 84% answering no, while 11% of Democrats said yes with 80% answering no.
We Feel Secure in Our Jobs But Could Use a Helping Hand
According to an October 16-18 poll of 1,500 adult U.S. citizens by The Economist/YouGov, 64% were “not very worried” about losing their jobs versus 35% who were either very or somewhat worried. Further, 64% were happy or very happy with their jobs versus just 10% who were unhappy or very unhappy (27% were neither happy nor unhappy).
However, an October 9-12 FOX News poll of 1,206 registered voters asked, “If you could send just one of the following two messages to the federal government right now, would it be ‘lend me a hand’ or would it be ‘leave me alone’?” Fifty-two percent (52%) responded, “Lend me a hand” (up from 44% in August) while 43% responded, “Leave me alone” (down from 47% in August).
At the same time, 54% of those FOX News respondents said they believed the country was “moving away from capitalism and more toward socialism” with 60% of them saying such a move would be a “bad thing.”
We Support Ukraine Against Russia
In that same Economist/YouGov poll, 69% viewed Ukraine as an ally or friendly toward the U.S. while 14% viewed it as an enemy or unfriendly and 17% were unsure. That compares to just 8% who viewed Russia as an ally or friendly versus 81% who viewed it as an enemy or unfriendly and 11% who were unsure.
As for who those surveyed believe is more likely to win the war that’s been raging since February, Ukraine was favored over Russia 31% to 23%. Another 13% believed either country is equally likely to be the eventual winner while 33% were unsure.
We Have Mixed Feelings About COVID
The Economist/YouGov poll also asked, “In your opinion, when do you think the COVID-19 pandemic will finally end?” To this, 24% said it had already ended. Another 8% believed the pandemic would be over before year’s end. Another 16% said sometime next year, and 20% said after 2023. A gloomy 32% said the pandemic would “never” be over.
With that in mind, 69% of those adults surveyed said they’re fully vaccinated. Another 3% had started the vax process but planned to get at least one more booster, while an additional 3% had yet to start, but still planned to get vaccinated. Eighteen percent (18%) of those surveyed said they’d never get vaccinated while 7% remained on the fence.
About a quarter (24%) said they wear a mask outside their home always or most of the time, with another 25% saying some of the time. Fifty-two percent (52%) said they never wear a mask.
As for mandates, 43% supported rules for masking in public indoor places while 48% opposed them.
More of Us Plan to Wait and Vote on Election Day
We’re at a different place when it comes to our voting habits compared to 2020—before the COVID-19 vaccines rolled out.
FOX News asked registered voters if they planned to vote early (or had already voted), or did they plan to wait and vote on Election Day. Sixteen percent (16%) said they’d vote early in person, versus 30% in October 2020. Another 22% said they’d vote early by mail or absentee versus 36% in 2020. Meanwhile, 50% of those surveyed said they’d vote on Election Day this year versus just 31% in 2020.
And 4% said they don’t plan on voting this Congressional midterm versus 1% who answered that way ahead of the 2020 Presidential election.
FOX News also asked, “Compared to previous Congressional elections, are you more enthusiastic about voting this year than usual, less enthusiastic, or about the same as usual?” Forty-two percent (42%) said they’re more enthusiastic versus 18% who said they’re less enthusiastic. Thirty-nine percent (39%) said they’re about the same as usual.