Monmouth Poll: Abortion, Economy Top Midterm Issues

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The American public is divided as to which party they want in control of Congress, and the issue picture has shifted since the last midterm – with the economy and abortion replacing health care as the top electoral concern. The Monmouth (“Mon-muth”University Poll also finds that a majority of Americans report having a difficult time paying for gas. Reports of problems paying household expenses overall have increased in the past six months at the same time President Joe Biden’s job rating heads further underwater.

The public remains divided on whether they prefer to have the Republicans (36%) or the Democrats (34%) in control of Congress. Pushing for “leaners” among those who initially say party control does not matter adds 12% to the GOP column and 10% for the Democrats. The combined 48% Republican and 44% Democrat split represents statistically insignificant shifts since March (45% Republican and 46% Democrat) and January (50% Republican and 43% Democrat). About 6 in 10 (59%) Americans say it is very important to have their preferred party in control of Congress. This congressional control importance metric is slightly higher among those who want Democrats (67%) rather than Republicans (61%) leading Congress. In March, those who wanted Republican control (64%) were slightly more likely than Democrat supporters (59%) to say that party control of Congress was very important to them. Overall, just 15% of the public approves of the job Congress is doing now, down from 21% in March. A total of 77% disapprove now.

“Congressional party preference hasn’t moved a lot this year, but the issue picture may be coming into focus with the economy and abortion as the top considerations right now. The importance of abortion coincides with the Supreme Court leak, which means it is hard to tell whether we are seeing a temporary blip or something that will have a major impact in November,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The poll asked Americans to rate how six different policy areas factor into their congressional vote choice. On each of these six issues, at least 2 in 3 say it is very or extremely important to them that their chosen candidate shares their views. Looking at just those who rate these policies as extremely important finds a fairly even distribution among abortion (35%), immigration (33%), gun control (32%), economic policy (31%), and health care (30%). Tax policy (24%) is seen as extremely important by slightly fewer people than the other five areas. Compared to a Monmouth pre-election poll taken in August 2018, immigration, gun control and tax policy are nominally less important than they were in the last midterm. Abortion is a few points higher in extreme importance than 2018, while health care is significantly less important. Economic policy has seen no change.

The similar shifts in the importance of these policies for the entire population masks some larger partisan movements. For example, the drop in immigration policy’s importance since the last midterm is driven mainly by Democrats (23% extremely important, down from 37% in 2018) while the drop in health care policy’s importance is driven mainly by Republicans (18%, down from 37%). The importance of economic policy declined a few points among Republicans and Democrats but actually increased slightly among independents.

The importance of abortion policy in the current midterms compared with four years ago has shifted the most among Democrats. Nearly half (48%) of Democrats say a candidate’s alignment with their views on abortion is extremely important to their vote, which is up from 31% who said the same in 2018. Abortion’s importance is slightly higher among independents than it was four years ago (31%, compared with 27% in 2018). Among Republicans, however, there has actually been a decline in seeing abortion policy as an extremely important factor in their vote choice (29%, down from 36% in 2018). Of note, the importance of abortion in the congressional vote has gone up by six points among women (43% extremely important now) and by three points among men (27% now) since 2018.

National poll of adults
May 5-9, 2022

When asked to choose the single most important issue from the six policy areas included in the poll, economic policy (26%) and abortion (25%) are the top concerns, followed by health care (16%) and immigration (14%). Fewer than 1 in 10 select either gun control (9%) or tax policy (8%) as their most important issue. Four years ago, health care was the top issue (28%), followed by economic policy (19%) and immigration (18%). Abortion policy (9%) was near the bottom of the list.

About 1 in 3 Democrats (32%) and 1 in 4 independents (26%) say agreeing with a candidate on abortion policy is the top consideration in their congressional vote. Four years ago, fewer than 1 in 10 in either group said the same. On the other hand, the number of Republicans who name abortion as their most important issue (17%) is about the same as in 2018. Among women, abortion as the most important midterm issue has increased from 10% to 30%, while among men it has increased from 9% to 19%.

“Many Democrats are clearly focused on abortion as a driving factor in the midterm elections. However, what is not clear from this one poll is whether this issue is actually motivating voters who would not otherwise come out to vote this year,” said Murray.

            Turning to presidential politics, Biden currently receives a job rating of 38% approve and 57% disapprove. He held a 39% to 54% rating in Monmouth polls taken in January and March this year. Just 18% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction, down from 24% two months ago.

Among typical household expenses most Americans pay, a majority (58%) say it is currently difficult for them to afford gas for their cars. Just over half also say it is difficult for them to pay grocery bills (52%), their tax bills (51%), and health care deductibles and out of pocket expenses (51%). Just under half say the same about health insurance premiums (48%) and fewer than 4 in 10 say making their mortgage or rent payment (37%) is difficult. A Monmouth poll from 2017 – the year before Democrats took control of the House of Representatives – found somewhat more people saying these expenses were easy to meet and fewer saying they were difficult, with the ease of buying groceries being the starkest change (62% easy in 2017 versus 47% easy in 2022).

Compared to this past December, the number of people who have experienced difficulty paying their grocery bill has increased by 10 points, health insurance premium difficulty has increased by 8 points, and tax payment difficulty is up 7 points. Out of pocket health expense difficulties are up slightly by 3 points and there has been no appreciable change in the difficulty of paying housing costs. [The gas price item was not asked in prior polls]. Of note, for the household expenses where difficulty has increased, the shifts have been larger among independents than among either Republicans or Democrats.

“The fact that more independents are feeling the pain is a warning sign for the party in power,” said Murray.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from May 5 to 9, 2022 with 807 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.)

1.     Do you approve or disapprove of the job Joe Biden is doing as president?

  TREND:

May2022

March2022

Jan.2022

Dec.2021

Nov.2021

Sept.2021

July2021

June2021

April2021

March2021

Jan.2021

Approve

38%

39%

39%

40%

42%

46%

48%

48%

54%

51%

54%

Disapprove

57%

54%

54%

50%

50%

46%

44%

43%

41%

42%

30%

(VOL) No opinion

5%

7%

7%

11%

9%

8%

8%

9%

5%

8%

16%

(n)

(807)

(809)

(794)

(808)

(811)

(802)

(804)

(810)

(800)

(802)

(809)

2.     Do you approve or disapprove of the job the U.S. Congress is doing?

  TREND:

May2022

March2022

Jan.2022

Dec.2021

Nov.2021

Sept.2021

July2021

June2021

April2021

March2021

Jan.2021

Approve

15%

21%

19%

23%

18%

22%

23%

21%

35%

30%

35%

Disapprove

77%

71%

74%

66%

70%

65%

62%

65%

56%

59%

51%

(VOL) No opinion

8%

8%

6%

11%

12%

13%

15%

15%

9%

11%

14%

(n)

(807)

(809)

(794)

(808)

(811)

(802)

(804)

(810)

(800)

(802)

(809)

  TREND:

Continued

Nov.2020

Early June2020

May2020

April2020

Feb.2020

Jan.2020

Dec.2019

Nov.2019

Sept.2019

Aug.2019

June2019

May2019

April2019

March2019

Jan.2019

Approve

23%

22%

32%

32%

20%

24%

22%

23%

21%

17%

19%

20%

24%

23%

18%

Disapprove

64%

69%

55%

55%

69%

62%

65%

64%

68%

71%

69%

71%

62%

68%

72%

(VOL) No opinion

13%

9%

13%

13%

11%

14%

13%

13%

11%

13%

12%

9%

14%

9%

10%

(n)

(810)

(807)

(808)

(857)

(902)

(903)

(903)

(908)

(1,161)

(800)

(751)

(802)

(801)

(802)

(805)

  TREND: Continued

Nov.2018

Aug.2018

June2018

April2018

March2018

Jan.2018

Dec.2017

Sept.2017

Aug.2017

July2017

May2017

March2017

Jan.2017

Approve

23%

17%

19%

17%

18%

21%

16%

17%

18%

19%

19%

25%

23%

Disapprove

63%

69%

67%

71%

72%

68%

65%

69%

69%

70%

68%

59%

66%

(VOL) No opinion

14%

14%

14%

12%

11%

11%

19%

15%

13%

11%

13%

16%

11%

(n)

(802)

(805)

(806)

(803)

(803)

(806)

(806)

(1,009)

(805)

(800)

(1,002)

(801)

(801)

  TREND: Continued

Sept.2016*

Aug.2016*

June2016*

March2016

Jan.2016

Dec.2015

Oct.2015

Sept.2015

Aug.2015

July2015

June2015

April2015

Jan.2015

Dec.2014

July2013

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

3.     Would you rather see the Republicans or the Democrats in control of Congress, or doesn’t this matter to you? [CHOICES WERE ROTATED] [If DOES NOT MATTER: If you had to lean one way or the other would you pick the Republicans or the Democrats?]

  TREND:

May2022

March2022

Jan.2022

Republicans

36%

33%

35%

Not matter, but lean Rep

12%

12%

15%

Democrats

34%

33%

33%

Not matter, but lean Dem

10%

13%

10%

Does not matter, no lean

7%

9%

7%

(VOL) Don’t know

1%

1%

0%

(n)

(807)

(809)

(794)

4.     Is it very important, somewhat important, or only a little important to have [Republicans/Democrats] in control of Congress? [CHOICE READ FROM Q3]

  TREND:

May2022

March2022

Jan.2022

Very important

59%

56%

54%

Somewhat important

20%

21%

23%

Only a little important

12%

12%

15%

(VOL) Don’t know / Does not matter who controls Congress (from Q3)

9%

11%

8%

(n)

(807)

(809)

(794)

5.     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

  TREND:

May2022

Aug.2018

Extremely important

33%

35%

Very important

37%

39%

Just somewhat important

26%

21%

Not important

4%

4%

(VOL) Don’t know

0%

1%

(n)

(807)

(805)

Health care policy

  TREND:

May2022

Aug.2018

Extremely important

30%

43%

Very important

42%

37%

Just somewhat important

22%

15%

Not important

6%

4%

(VOL) Don’t know

0%

0%

(n)

(807)

(805)

Gun control policy

  TREND:

May2022

Aug.2018

Extremely important

32%

37%

Very important

34%

38%

Just somewhat important

21%

16%

Not important

12%

8%

(VOL) Don’t know

1%

1%

(n)

(807)

(805)

Abortion policy

  TREND:

May2022

Aug.2018

Extremely important

35%

31%

Very important

35%

28%

Just somewhat important

19%

25%

Not important

10%

15%

(VOL) Don’t know

1%

2%

(n)

(807)

(805)

Tax policy

  TREND:

May2022

Aug.2018

Extremely important

24%

29%

Very important

46%

44%

Just somewhat important

26%

22%

Not important

3%

3%

(VOL) Don’t know

1%

1%

(n)

(807)

(805)

Economic policy

  TREND:

May2022

Aug.2018

Extremely important

31%

31%

Very important

48%

48%

Just somewhat important

19%

17%

Not important

1%

4%

(VOL) Don’t know

1%

0%

(n)

(807)

(805)

6.     And which of the issues I just mentioned is most important to you in your vote choice for Congress?

  TREND:

May2022

Aug.2018

Immigration policy

14%

18%

Health care policy

16%

28%

Gun control policy

9%

13%

Abortion policy

25%

9%

Tax policy

8%

7%

Economic policy

26%

19%

(VOL) Don’t know

3%

5%

(n)

(807)

(805)

7.     Would you say things in the country are going in the right direction, or have they gotten off on the wrong track?

  TREND:

May2022

March2022

Jan.2022

Dec.2021

Nov.2021

Sept.2021

July2021

June2021

April2021

March2021

Jan.2021

Right direction

18%

24%

24%

30%

31%

29%

38%

37%

46%

34%

42%

Wrong track

79%

73%

71%

66%

64%

65%

56%

57%

50%

61%

51%

(VOL) Depends

2%

1%

3%

1%

2%

4%

3%

3%

2%

4%

3%

(VOL) Don’t know

2%

2%

2%

3%

3%

2%

4%

3%

2%

2%

4%

(n)

(807)

(809)

(794)

(808)

(811)

(802)

(804)

(810)

(800)

(802)

(809)

  TREND: Continued

Nov.2020

Early Sept.2020

Aug.2020

Late June2020

Early June2020

May2020

April2020

March2020

Feb.2020

Jan.2020

Right direction

26%

27%

22%

18%

21%

33%

30%

39%

37%

37%

Wrong track

68%

66%

72%

74%

74%

60%

61%

54%

57%

56%

(VOL) Depends

4%

4%

4%

5%

4%

4%

5%

4%

6%

6%

(VOL) Don’t know

2%

3%

2%

3%

1%

3%

5%

3%

1%

1%

(n)

(810)

(867)

(868)

(867)

(807)

(808)

(857)

(851)

(902)

(903)

  TREND: Continued

Dec.2019

Nov.2019

Sept.2019

Aug.2019

June2019

May2019

April2019

March2019

Nov.2018

Aug.2018

June2018

April2018

March2018

Jan.2018

Right direction

32%

30%

30%

28%

31%

29%

28%

29%

35%

35%

40%

33%

31%

37%

Wrong track

56%

61%

61%

62%

62%

63%

62%

63%

55%

57%

53%

58%

61%

57%

(VOL) Depends

8%

7%

6%

8%

6%

4%

7%

6%

7%

6%

3%

5%

6%

3%

(VOL) Don’t know

4%

2%

2%

2%

2%

3%

3%

2%

3%

3%

3%

4%

1%

3%

(n)

(903)

(908)

(1,161)

(800)

(751)

(802)

(801)

(802)

(802)

(805)

(806)

(803)

(803)

(806)

  TREND: Continued

Dec.2017

Aug.2017

May2017

March2017

Jan.2017

Aug.2016*

Oct.2015

July2015

June2015

April2015

Dec.2014

July2013

Right direction

24%

32%

31%

35%

29%

30%

24%

28%

23%

27%

23%

28%

Wrong track

66%

58%

61%

56%

65%

65%

66%

63%

68%

66%

69%

63%

(VOL) Depends

7%

4%

5%

4%

4%

2%

6%

5%

5%

5%

5%

5%

(VOL) Don’t know

3%

5%

3%

5%

2%

3%

4%

3%

3%

2%

3%

4%

(n)

(806)

(805)

(1,002)

(801)

(801)

(803)

(1,012)

(1,001)

(1,002)

(1,005)

(1,008)

(1,012)

        * Registered voters

8.     I’m going to read you some typical household expenses.  For each, please tell me if it is very easy, somewhat easy, somewhat difficult, or very difficult for you to pay for it?  If you do not have this expense, just let me know. [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]

Mortgage or rent payment

  TREND:

May2022

Dec.2021

May2019

March

2017

Very easy

15%

16%

21%

17%

Somewhat easy

27%

24%

25%

28%

Somewhat difficult

22%

24%

24%

22%

Very difficult

15%

13%

9%

11%

Do not have this expense

21%

23%

19%

20%

(VOL) Don’t know

0%

1%

1%

2%

(n)

(807)

(808)

(802)

(801)

Grocery bills

TREND:

May2022

Dec.2021

May2019

March

2017

Very easy

18%

19%

33%

28%

Somewhat easy

29%

37%

36%

34%

Somewhat difficult

31%

30%

21%

26%

Very difficult

21%

12%

9%

7%

Do not have this expense

1%

2%

1%

4%

(VOL) Don’t know

0%

1%

1%

1%

(n)

(807)

(808)

(802)

(801)

Health insurance premiums

TREND:

May2022

Dec.2021

May2019

March

2017

Very easy

18%

22%

21%

19%

Somewhat easy

21%

24%

26%

23%

Somewhat difficult

25%

23%

22%

20%

Very difficult

23%

17%

18%

22%

Do not have this expense

12%

11%

11%

13%

(VOL) Don’t know

1%

2%

3%

2%

(n)

(807)

(808)

(802)

(801)

Health care deductibles and out of pocket expenses

  TREND:

May2022

Dec.2021

May2019

March

2017

Very easy

16%

14%

20%

17%

Somewhat easy

23%

28%

28%

26%

Somewhat difficult

24%

27%

25%

25%

Very difficult

27%

21%

20%

21%

Do not have this expense

10%

9%

6%

9%

(VOL) Don’t know

0%

1%

1%

3%

(n)

(807)

(808)

(802)

(801)

Paying taxes

TREND:

May2022

Dec.2021

May2019

March

2017

Very easy

15%

18%

22%

20%

Somewhat easy

27%

27%

29%

28%

Somewhat difficult

28%

27%

26%

27%

Very difficult

23%

17%

15%

14%

Do not have this expense

5%

9%

6%

9%

(VOL) Don’t know

1%

1%

2%

2%

(n)

(807)

(808)

(802)

(801)

Gas for your car

May2022

Very easy

13%

Somewhat easy

21%

Somewhat difficult

26%

Very difficult

32%

Do not have this expense

8%

(VOL) Don’t know

1%

(n)

(807)

[Q9-22 previously released.]

[Q23-38 held for future release.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from May 5 to 9, 2022 with a probability-based national random sample of 807 adults age 18 and older. This includes 284 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 523 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone, in English. Telephone numbers were selected through a mix of random digit dialing and list-based sampling. Landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Interviewing services were provided by Braun Research, with sample obtained from Dynata (RDD, n=532), Aristotle (list, n=137) and a panel of prior Monmouth poll participants (n=138). Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information (ACS 2018 one-year survey). 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

30% Republican

43% Independent

27% Democrat

 

49% Male

51% Female

 

30% 18-34

32% 35-54

38% 55+

 

63% White

12% Black

17% Hispanic

  8% Asian/Other

 

69% No degree

31% 4 year degree

MARGIN OF ERROR

unweighted  sample

moe(+/-)

TOTAL

 

807

3.5%

REGISTERED VOTER

Yes

751

3.6%

No

56

13.1%

SELF-REPORTED PARTY ID

Republican

231

6.5%

Independent

330

5.4%

Democrat

243

6.3%

IDEOLOGY

Liberal

205

6.9%

Moderate

297

5.7%

Conservative

288

5.8%

GENDER

Male

419

4.8%

Female

388

5.0%

AGE

18-34

152

8.0%

35-54

276

5.9%

55+

375

5.1%

CHILDREN IN HOME

Yes

207

6.8%

No

596

4.0%

RACE

White, non-Hispanic

571

4.1%

Other

209

6.8%

COLLEGE GRADUATE

No degree

367

5.1%

4 year degree

436

4.7%

WHITE COLLEGE

White, no degree

256

6.1%

White, 4 year degree

312

5.6%

INCOME

<$50K

209

6.8%

$50 to <$100K

239

6.3%

$100K+

313

5.5%

Crosstabs may be found in the PDF file on the report webpage:  https://www.monmouth.edu/polling-institute/reports/monmouthpoll_US_051222/

 

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One response to “Monmouth Poll: Abortion, Economy Top Midterm Issues”

  1. Monmouth University polling is once again seriously flawed. They’ve been substantially more wrong than right over the past several years. All they have to do is get out in public to talk to New Jerseyans, and Americans in general, and they’ll find that Democrats are shifting to vote Republican in the upcoming General Election. Every single day, Democrats (along with Republicans) see the price at the gas pump, the prices going higher & higher at the supermarkets, and prices going higher for everything. It’s not about abortion. When you ask the real question of what’s really important to you and your family in the upcoming election, it’s being able to afford gas to get to work and pay the bills, and when you get paid, can you afford to pay for the food and other items in the stores that you NEED!

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