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Monmouth University Polling Institute

Voters Prefer Political Outsiders…but with Experience

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Health care is top issue in House vote

West Long Branch, NJ – Democrats continue to hold a lead over Republicans in the generic House ballot, although not by as much as a few months ago. Americans like candidates to have some government experience, but on the whole they would rather vote for a political outsider. The Monmouth University Poll also finds that health care is the top issue-related concern on voters’ minds, while the public is divided on whether they feel any direct benefit from a growing national economy.

If the election for U.S. House of Representatives was held today, 48% of registered voters say they would support or lean toward supporting the Democratic candidate in their district compared to 43% who would vote for the Republican. Ratings were similar although nominally better in prior Monmouth polls – including a 48% to 41% Democratic edge in June, 49% to 41% in April, and 50% to 41% in March.  Just 17% of the public approve of the overall job Congress is doing and two-thirds (69%) disapprove, a result that has been fairly consistent for years.

“While the overall generic ballot gap has gone from 9 points to 5 points over the past five months it is not clear whether this is significant movement toward the GOP given the poll’s margin of error. But these results do tell us that the Democrats have not been able to capitalize on anti-incumbent sentiment to break away from the Republicans on a national level,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Most Americans see having experience in government and politics as a positive (61%) rather than negative (22%) quality in a candidate for Congress. But more say that they would be likely to give their House vote to a “political outsider” (52%) rather than a “political insider” (25%) all other things being equal.  Democrats (75%) are more likely than Republicans (58%) and independents (53%) to see political experience as a positive attribute, while Republicans (62%) and independents (61%) are more likely than Democrats (34%) to support a candidate they see as a “political outsider.”

“The Trump phenomenon could come back to bite the GOP establishment. The key for Republican officeholders is to somehow position themselves as outsiders while Democrats need to hit upon a key issue that grabs voters’ attention,” said Murray.

Monmouth asked Americans which of six issue areas is most important in their vote choice for Congress. Health care policy (28%) is the top response, followed by economic policy (19%), immigration (18%), gun control (13%), abortion (9%), and tax policy (7%). Health care policy is the top issue for Democrats (38%) and independents (31%), while Republicans are more focused on economic (26%) and immigration policies (23%).

When these policies are asked about separately, at least three-quarters say that it is extremely or very important that a candidate for Congress share their views on the following issues in order to get their vote – health care policy (80%), economic policy (79%), gun control policy (75%), immigration policy (74%), and tax policy (73%). Six in ten say it is extremely or very important that a candidate shares their views on abortion policy (59%).

There is not much differentiation among the number of Republicans who give the most intense response of extremely important – between 35% and 40% of Republicans say it is extremely important for a candidate to share their views on each of the six policy areas mentioned in the poll. Democrats (50%) and independents (42%) are more likely to say sharing a candidate’s views on health care policy is an extremely important factor in their vote than say the same about the other five policy areas.

“Health care looks like the issue that could give Democrats the most leverage among persuadable midterm voters. It really comes down to family finances – ‘Can I pay my bills?’  Republicans, on the other hand, need to convince more voters that they are better off now than they were two years ago,” said Murray.

Currently half of the public say their family has benefitted either a great deal (18%) or some (32%) from the growing U.S. economy, while a similar number say they have not benefited much (20%) or at all (27%).  The current result of 50% great deal or some and 47% not much or not at all marks an improvement from Monmouth’s April poll when 44% of the public gave a positive response to this question and 53% gave a negative response.

The poll also asked about how much different groups of federal, state and local officials are concerned with looking out for the economic well-being of average Americans. Pres. Trump earns a net negative rating (-11 points) on this metric with 35% who say he is very concerned about average Americans and 46% who say he is not really concerned about their economic well-being. Republicans in Congress also earn a net negative rating (-23 points) with just 17% saying the GOP is very concerned and 40% saying not really concerned. Congressional Democrats have a smaller net negative gap (-13 points) at 22% very concerned and 35% not concerned.  [For each of these, the remainder say that the president or the congressional parties are only somewhat concerned or they give no answer.]

State officials do better than federal ones, with 29% saying their state’s governor is very concerned with the economic well-being of average Americans versus 28% who see their governor as not really concerned (net +1 point).  State legislative Republicans earn a 21% very and 34% not concerned rating (-13 points), and state legislative Democrats earn a 24% very and 30% not concerned rating (-6 points). Local mayor and councils get a net positive rating on looking out for average Americans at 31% very concerned and 23% not really concerned (+8 points).

There are expected partisan differences for ratings of Trump and the two parties at the state and federal levels on this question. Independents, though, give a net negative evaluation on this question to all seven people and groups asked about in the poll. They are more negative about congressional Republicans (-28 points, 12% very and 40% not concerned) than congressional Democrats (-22 points, 14% very and 36% not concerned), while Trump earns a net -20 point rating (27% very concerned and 47% not concerned).

“Democrats have a slight edge on the bread and butter question of who has your back, but it is a very slight edge,” said Murray.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from August 15 to August 19, 2018 with 805 adults in the United States.  The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

 

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS     

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

 

[Q1 previously released.]

 

  1. Do you approve or disapprove of the job the U.S. Congress is doing?
TREND: Aug.
2018
June
2018
April
2018
March
2018
Jan.
2018
Dec.
2017
Sept.
2017
Aug.
2017
July
2017
May
2017
March
2017
Jan.
2017
Approve 17% 19% 17% 18% 21% 16% 17% 18% 19% 19% 25% 23%
Disapprove 69% 67% 71% 72% 68% 65% 69% 69% 70% 68% 59% 66%
(VOL) No opinion 14% 14% 12% 11% 11% 19% 15% 13% 11% 13% 16% 11%
(n) (805) (806) (803) (803) (806) (806) (1,009) (805) (800) (1,002) (801) (801)

 

TREND: Continued Sept.
2016*
Aug.
2016*
June
2016*
March
2016
Jan.
2016
Dec.
2015
Oct.
2015
Sept.
2015
Aug.
2015
July
2015
June
2015
April
2015
Jan.
2015
Dec.
2014
July
2013
Approve 15% 14% 17% 22% 17% 16% 17% 19% 18% 18% 19% 21% 18% 17% 14%
Disapprove 77% 78% 76% 68% 73% 73% 71% 71% 72% 69% 71% 67% 70% 73% 76%
(VOL) No opinion 8% 9% 7% 10% 10% 10% 12% 11% 11% 12% 10% 12% 11% 11% 10%
(n) (802) (803) (803) (1,008) (1,003) (1,006) (1,012) (1,009) (1,203) (1,001) (1,002) (1,005) (1,003) (1,008) (1,012)

* Registered voters

 

[Q3 previously released.]

 

[REGISTERED VOTERS ONLY, n=725, moe = +/-3.6%]

  1. If the election for U.S. Congress was held today, would you vote for the Republican or the Democratic candidate in your district? [INCLUDING LEANERS.  ITEMS WERE ROTATED]
Registered voters Aug.
2018
June
2018
April
2018
March
2018
Jan.
2018
Dec.
2017
Republican 43% 41% 41% 41% 45% 36%
Democratic 48% 48% 49% 50% 47% 51%
(VOL) Other candidate 2% 3% 2% 3% 3% 2%
(VOL) Would not vote 1% 2% 1% 2% 1% 3%
(VOL) Don’t know 6% 6% 7% 6% 4% 8%
(n) (725) (711) (681) (708) (711) (702)

 

  1. In general, do you see having experience in government and politics as a positive or a negative quality in a candidate for Congress? [Is that very or just somewhat positive/negative?]
Aug.
2018
Very positive 23%
Somewhat positive 38%
Somewhat negative 13%
Very negative 9%
(VOL) Depends 10%
(VOL) Don’t know 6%
(n) (805)

 

  1. All other things being equal, who would you be more likely to support: a candidate for Congress who is seen as a political insider or someone who is seen as a political outsider? [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]
Aug.
2018
Political insider 25%
Political outsider 52%
(VOL) Depends 16%
(VOL) Don’t know 6%
(n) (805)

 

  1. I’m going to read you a number of different policy issues. For each one, please tell me how important it is that a candidate for Congress shares your views on that issue in order for you to vote for them. You may use extremely important, very important, just somewhat important, or not important. [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]

 

Immigration policy

Aug.
2018
Extremely important 35%
Very important 39%
Just somewhat important 21%
Not important 4%
(VOL) Don’t know 1%
(n) (805)

 

Health care policy

Aug.
2018
Extremely important 43%
Very important 37%
Just somewhat important 15%
Not important 4%
(VOL) Don’t know 0%
(n) (805)

 

Gun control policy

Aug.
2018
Extremely important 37%
Very important 38%
Just somewhat important 16%
Not important 8%
(VOL) Don’t know 1%
(n) (805)

 

Abortion policy

Aug.
2018
Extremely important 31%
Very important 28%
Just somewhat important 25%
Not important 15%
(VOL) Don’t know 2%
(n) (805)

 

Tax policy

Aug.
2018
Extremely important 29%
Very important 44%
Just somewhat important 22%
Not important 3%
(VOL) Don’t know 1%
(n) (805)

 

Economic policy

Aug.
2018
Extremely important 31%
Very important 48%
Just somewhat important 17%
Not important 4%
(VOL) Don’t know 0%
(n) (805)

 

  1. And which of the issues I just mentioned is most important to you in your vote choice for Congress?
Aug.
2018
Immigration policy 18%
Health care policy 28%
Gun control policy 13%
Abortion policy 9%
Tax policy 7%
Economic policy 19%
(VOL) Don’t know 5%
(n) (805)

 

  1. Recent indicators have shown that the U.S. economy has been growing, including lower unemployment, higher productivity, and a high Dow Jones average. How much has your family benefitted from this economic upturn – a great deal, some, not much, or not at all?
TREND: Aug.
2018
April
2018
Jan.
2017
Aug.
2016*
Jan.
2015
Great deal 18% 12% 12% 11% 8%
Some 32% 32% 35% 32% 31%
Not much 20% 24% 29% 26% 32%
Not at all 27% 29% 23% 28% 29%
(VOL) Don’t know 3% 3% 2% 3% 0%
 (n) (805) (803) (801) (803) (1,003)

*Registered voters

 

  1. For each of the following people or groups, please tell me whether you think they are very concerned, somewhat concerned, or not really concerned with looking out for the economic well-being of average Americans? [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]

                                                                       

President Trump

Aug.
2018
Very concerned 35%
Somewhat concerned 17%
Not really concerned 46%
(VOL) Don’t know 2%
(n) (805)

 

The Republicans in Congress

Aug.
2018
Very concerned 17%
Somewhat concerned 39%
Not really concerned 40%
(VOL) Don’t know 4%
(n) (805)

 

The Democrats in Congress

Aug.
2018
Very concerned 22%
Somewhat concerned 38%
Not really concerned 35%
(VOL) Don’t know 5%
(n) (805)

 

Your state’s governor

Aug.
2018
Very concerned 29%
Somewhat concerned 37%
Not really concerned 28%
(VOL) Don’t know 6%
(n) (805)

 

The Republicans in your state legislature

Aug.
2018
Very concerned 21%
Somewhat concerned 39%
Not really concerned 34%
(VOL) Don’t know 6%
(n) (805)

 

The Democrats in your state legislature

Aug.
2018
Very concerned 24%
Somewhat concerned 39%
Not really concerned 30%
(VOL) Don’t know 7%
(n) (805)

 

Your local mayor and council

Aug.
2018
Very concerned 31%
Somewhat concerned 35%
Not really concerned 23%
(VOL) Don’t know 11%
(n) (805)

 

[Q11-22 previously released.]

 

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from August 15 to 19, 2018 with a national random sample of 805 adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 400 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 405 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and SSI (RDD sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design).  Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

 

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
Self-Reported
29% Republican
39% Independent
32% Democrat
 
48% Male
52% Female
 
30% 18-34
33% 35-54
36% 55+
 
65% White
12% Black
15% Hispanic
8% Asian/Other
 
69% No degree
31% 4 year degree
  

 

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.

 

 

Download this Poll Report with all tables

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