Friday, 12 Aug 2022

The Key Insights From Our First Poll of the 2022 Midterms

A summary of the findings includes deep dissatisfaction among voters and potential fertile ground for new candidates in 2024.

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By Nate Cohn

Nate Cohn, the chief political analyst for The New York Times, will be overseeing the Times/Siena College polling heading into the Nov. 8 midterm elections.

Which side has the most energy heading into November? More polls will come as the midterm elections near, but for now we’ve wrapped up our first New York Times/Siena survey, and here are some notable takeaways:

Voters are not happy. Just 13 percent of registered voters said America was heading in the right direction. Only 10 percent said the economy was excellent or good. And a majority of voters said the nation was too politically divided to solve its challenges. As a point of comparison, each of these figures shows a more pessimistic electorate than in October 2020, when the pandemic was still raging and Donald J. Trump was president.

Joe Biden is in trouble. His approval rating in our poll was in the low 30s. That’s lower than we ever found for Mr. Trump.

Democrats would rather see someone else get the party’s nomination in 2024. Mr. Biden’s age was as much of an issue among voters as his overall job performance. Of course, he probably would have trailed “someone else” ahead of the last presidential primary as well, but he still won the nomination because his opposition was weak or fractured. Still, it’s a sign that Mr. Biden is much weaker than the typical president seeking re-election. It could augur a contested primary.

Democrats’ Reasons for a Different Candidate

What’s the most important reason you would prefer someone other than Joe Biden to be the Democratic Party’s 2024 presidential nominee?

Asked of 191 respondents who said they planned to vote in the 2024 Democratic primary and who preferred a candidate other than Joe Biden in a New York Times/Siena College poll from July 5-7, 2022.

By The New York Times

Trump isn’t doing great, either. Like Mr. Biden, Mr. Trump has become less popular over the last two years. The number of Republicans who hold an unfavorable view of him has doubled since our final polling in 2020. He’s now under 50 percent in a hypothetical 2024 Republican primary matchup.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is already at 25 percent in an early test of the Republican primary. Mr. Trump may still be the front-runner, but the polls increasingly look more like the early surveys from the Democratic primary in 2008 — when Hillary Clinton found herself in an extremely close race and ultimately lost to Barack Obama — than the polls ahead of the Democratic primary in 2016, when she won a protracted battle against Bernie Sanders.

Many voters do not want to see a 2020 rematch. Mr. Biden still led Mr. Trump in a hypothetical 2024 matchup, 44 percent to 41 percent. What was surprising: Ten percent of respondents volunteered that they would not vote at all or would vote for someone else if those were the two candidates, even though the interviewer didn’t offer those choices as an option.

The midterm race starts out close, with voters nearly evenly divided on the generic congressional ballot (voters are asked whether they prefer Democrats or Republicans to be in control of Congress). That’s a little surprising, given expectations of a Republican landslide this year.

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