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Inflation and abortion top issues for voters ahead of midterms

·Contributor
·3 min read

As the midterm elections draw closer, what seemed like a slam dunk for Republicans has now been upended by a number of events, from the Supreme Court's decision to upend Roe v. Wade to President Biden's student loan forgiveness plan.

A new poll from NPR, PBS NewsHouse, and Marist conducted from Aug. 29 through Sept. 1 revealed that Democrats have gained the edge overall as they attempt to hold onto their thin margins in the House and Senate. However, the poll also found that Democrats, Republicans, and Independents are being motivated by different issues.

Here are three things to watch in the two months before the midterms:

Democrats capture momentum

Forty-eight percent of voters polled said they would vote for Democratic candidates if the election were held today compared to 44% of voters who would choose GOP candidates.

Should these results hold, they would defy historical norms as the president's party tends to lose seats in the midterms.

President Biden waves as he boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Sept. 9, 2022, on his way to the groundbreaking of the new Intel semiconductor manufacturing facility in New Albany, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
President Biden waves as he boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Sept. 9, 2022, on his way to the groundbreaking of the new Intel semiconductor manufacturing facility in New Albany, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

The surge for Democrats comes as Biden's approval rating has bumped up to 41% in August after the president suffered his lowest point in terms of approval throughout most of the summer.

Biden's increased favorability has been fueled by a 10% bounce among Independent voters.

Inflation

Inflation is the top issue overall for voters.

High consumer prices and fuel costs weighed on U.S. households throughout the summer, though the number of voters citing inflation as their top priority ticked down slightly since July as some of those pressures have eased.

Voters arrive at their polling location on Primary Election day in Rockport, Massachusetts, U.S., September 6, 2022.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Voters arrive at their polling location on Primary Election day in Rockport, Massachusetts, U.S., September 6, 2022. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Republican and Independent voters ranked high inflation as the no. 1 issue for the midterms by a margin of 40% and 37%, respectively. Meanwhile, just 13% of Democrats ranked inflation as their top issue.

Among Democratic voters, inflation was seen as the fourth-biggest issue for the November elections behind abortion, the Jan. 6 committee, and health care.

Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling

Abortion was another motivating factor for voters looking to vote in the midterms, especially among Democrats.

Overall, 58% of voters polled said they are more likely to vote in the midterm elections due to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

FILE - Demonstrators protest about abortion outside the Supreme Court in Washington, June 24, 2022. Nothing has undermined the GOP's momentum more than the Supreme Court's stunning decision to end abortion protections, which triggered a swift backlash even in the reddest of red states over the summer. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
Demonstrators protest about abortion outside the Supreme Court in Washington, June 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

The share of Democrats who said they were more likely to vote due to the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade reached 77%, according to the poll. The issue was also the second-biggest motivating factor for Independents after inflation, with 22% of Independents selecting abortion as top of mind.

The polling has indicated that the issue remains top of mind for many voters months after the Supreme Court ruled against the federal protection of abortion in June — though just 10% of Republicans cited abortion as a reason to get out to the polls in November.

Kevin Cirilli is a visiting media fellow at the Atlantic Council's Global China Hub and the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue. You can follow him on Twitter @kevcirilli.

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