Democrats Hold Edge for Midterms With Turnout Unpredictable

Ros Krasny
Democrats Hold Edge for Midterms With Turnout Unpredictable

(Bloomberg) -- Democrats hold a sizable advantage going into November’s mid-term elections when people likely to vote are asked which party they want to control Congress. Pollsters agree: Turnout will be key.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday showed Democrats have a 9-point edge among likely voters, 50 percent to the 41 percent who want Republicans to stay in charge. The lead is powered by support from women, Latinos and younger voters, the poll found. Among a wider pool of registered voters, the Democrats’ lead was a smaller 7 points.

A key finding ahead of the mid-term elections, which are often marked by low voter turnout, is that Americans are more fired up than usual. The 65 percent of registered voters reporting high interest in the election was the highest in 12 years. The figure among Democrats was 72 percent, and among Republicans it was 68 percent.

“It’s a barnburner,” Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the survey along with Democratic pollster Fred Yang and Hart Research Associates.

Trump Rating Up

President Donald Trump’s approval rating, at 47 percent, was his highest yet in the NBC/WSJ polling series. The poll showed Republicans had a 15-point advantage on the question of which party better deals with the economy, their biggest lead on that question in the poll’s history.

But the poll found that Democrats led among all women at 57 percent to 32 percent, among Latinos at 66 percent to 26 percent, and those ages 18 to 34 at 58 percent to 32 percent, the poll found.

With early voting under way in some contests, Trump warned in a tweet late Saturday that “all levels of government and law enforcement” are watching carefully for voter fraud, and “violators will be subject to maximum penalties, both civil and criminal!”

All levels of government and Law Enforcement are watching carefully for VOTER FRAUD, including during EARLY VOTING. Cheat at your own peril. Violators will be subject to maximum penalties, both civil and criminal!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2018

The president has previously claimed widespread voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election, including by undocumented immigrants who aren’t eligible to cast votes.

The NBC/WSJ survey of 900 registered voters was conducted Oct. 14-17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points. Among 645 likely voters, the margin of error expanded to plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

Other recent polls have suggested Democrats need high turnout from groups who don’t reliably vote in mid-term elections to press their advantage.

Competitive Races

“Turnout is always difficult for pollsters to forecast, and the fact that you have a lot of districts that have not had competitive races in a long time, turnout’s even more difficult to forecast,” pollster Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight said Sunday on ABC.

Silver estimates Democrats have more than an 80 percent chance of taking control of the House. “Democrats are kind of in a no-lose situation almost literally in the House where they might have four or five seats they could lose versus 100 GOP seats in play,” he said on “This Week.”

The Senate, where several Democrats are running for re-election in states in which Trump romped to victory in 2016, including North Dakota, Montana and Indiana, is a mirror-image of the House, Silver said.

(Updates with Nate Silver from 11th paragraph.)

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To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at, Ros Krasny, Kevin Miller

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