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Deep-Dive Poll Provides Truly Illuminating Results on Which Party is Poised to Win Most Competitive Districts

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Much news has been made about Democrats faring increasingly better in the generic congressional poll for the fast-approaching November midterm elections. Republicans still are largely predicted to regain control back of at least the U.S. House of Representatives, and polls often underestimated Republican performance in previous years. A new poll was also recently released to turn that narrative about a Democratic edge on its head. 

The AARP Targeted Congressional Districts poll, conducted by Trump pollster Tony Fabrizio and Biden pollster John Anzalone shows that the red wave is still expected to come. The poll surveyed overall voters, though voters over 50 made up 61 percent of respondents.

As a reminder, Anzalone is that same Biden pollster who in April told POLITICO Playbook that 2022 is the "worst political environment" of his lifetime. 

The poll surveyed respondents from the 56 most competitive districts for the upcoming midterm elections. While Biden won these districts by a 6-point margin, these districts look to favor the generic Republican candidate by 4 percentage points compared to the generic Democratic candidate, at 46-42 percent. 

When looking to voters over 50, Republicans have a stronger advantage, by 9 percentage points, at 49-40 percent. 

The Republican candidate looks to be favored more strongly among various demographics. Further, those demographics which do favor the Democratic candidate, don't do on as much of a partisan level. The one exception looks to be black voters over 50 supporting the Democratic candidate by 49 percentage points, at 16-65 percent.

While Democrats favor the Democratic candidate by 85 percentage points, at 5-90 percent, Republicans favor the Republican candidate by 90 percentage points, 94-4 percent.

Independent voters also favor the Republican candidate, by 7 percentage points, at 41-34 percent.

Women favor the Democratic candidate by 6 percentage points, at 41-47 percent, but men favor the Republican candidate by steeper numbers, a 16 percentage point advantage at 53-37 percent. And, while women over 50 are evenly split at 44 percent, men over 50 aren't split at all. They favor the Republican candidate by 20 percentage points, at 55-35 percent.

White voters over 50 also support the Republican candidate, by 16 percentage points, at 53-37 percent. While minority voters over 50 do support the Democratic candidate, it's by a much smaller margin, with the exception being black voters. Hispanics over 50 only support the Democratic candidate by 5 percentage points, at 42-47 percent, and AAPI voters over 50 only support the Democratic candidate by 3 percentage points, at 41-44 percent. 

Josh Kraushaar, who covered the poll for Axios, noted that "This is the latest in a string of surveys showing Democrats losing ground with nonwhite voters, particularly Hispanics and Asian Americans."

It's also worth mentioning that Biden is performing particularly poorly among Hispanics, as various polls have been reflecting for months. 

The poll also looked to the job approval of President Biden and, in what may serve as a contrast to the previous administration and as a preview for 2024, should he indeed run again, former President Donald Trump. 

Biden has a net approval rating of -24 among all voters and -25 among voters over 50, as 37 percent of both groups approve of the job he's doing, while 61 percent of overall voters and 62 percent of voters over 50 disapprove. The only demographics that approve of his performance include the 75 percent of Democrats, leaving him with a +51 rating among his own party, and the 66 percent of black voters over 50, leaving him with a +37 rating among the demographic.

Trump is much more popular. Fifty percent of likely voters approve of Trump, while 51 percent of voters over 50 do, leaving him with a +1 net approval rating and a +3 rating, respectively. Further, he has a much bigger net approval rating among Republicans than Biden does among Democrats, at +85, with 92 percent of Republicans approving of Trump. 

Notably, Independents disapprove of both Biden and Trump, though they disapprove of Biden by much higher numbers, at a -32 rating, compared to a -5 rating for Trump. The same goes for women voters, whose net approval rating for Biden is at -14 percent, while it's at -8 for Trump, and for women voters over 50, whose net approval rating for Biden is at -18 and at -5 for Trump. 

The poll similarly looked to the approval rating for Democrats in Congress as well as Republicans in Congress. Both parties have high unfavorable ratings, but the net approval rating for Republicans is slightly better, at -14, compared to the -19 for Democrats. That rating gets even better when it comes to voters over 50, as their net approval rating for Democrats in Congress is at -18, and it's at -10 for Republicans. 

Another takeaway of the poll to examine is how voters rank their issues of importance. Democrats, particularly President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, like to focus on abortion and climate change. Those issues ranked third and ninth in order of importance though, respectively. Twelve percent of overall voters and 10 percent of voters over 50 consider abortion their most important issue when deciding who to vote for in Congress. On climate change, just 4 percent of both overall voters and voters over 50 say it's the most important issue. 

Overall voters and voters over 50 are more likely to consider "inflation & rising prices" the most important issue, at 17 percent and 16 percent, respectively. Not far behind is the economy, with 14 percent of overall voters and 15 percent of voters over 50 considering it the most important issue. 

Even more damning to the Democratic narrative is that voters were asked if inflation or "the findings of the January 6th commission" were more important in deciding their vote for Congress. Democrats were the only demographic to say January 6th, and it was only by 13 percentage points, at 40-53 percent. For all voters, 66 percent said they cared more about inflation, while 67 percent of voters over 50 said the same. All other demographics, except for Democrats, chose inflation by 65 percent or higher, leading to a double-digit split.

The same went for comparing inflation and "the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. Democrats were the only ones to choose Roe, 31-64 percent. Particularly damning for the Democratic narrative is that even women were more likely to say inflation, by 51-45 percent. 

Such findings are consistent with other polls.

Respondents were also asked to choose what party they believed would handle certain issues better. Of the 11 issues, Republicans had a lead in six issues among both overall voters and voters over 50, including on "inflation & rising prices," "gas & energy costs," the economy, crime, immigration, and guns. On the first five, their lead was by double digits. 

While Democrats do have an edge on issues that older voters consider "extremely important" or "very important" to protect, such as social security, retirement savings, and medicare, their edge is much more narrow than the edge Republicans have on other issues. It's worth noting that while overall voters are more likely to trust Democrats on social security, by 33-35 percent, voters over 50 are more likely to trust Republicans, by 36-34 percent. 

The poll notes that "[v]oters give Republicans in Congress the clearers edge on inflation, gas/energy costs, the economy, crime, and immigration. Given the importance of inflation and the economy to voters, this helps explain a generic Republican leading in these target districts."

And, when it comes to the issues where Democrats lead, the poll notes that "Democrats hold their biggest advantage on abortion, and are favored on health care, Medicare, and the cost of prescription drugs by narrower margins."

When it comes to these 56 districts, 10 are in the Pacific region, eight are in the Mountain region, three are in West North Central, 12 are in East North Central, five are in New England, 11 are in Middle Atlantic, and four are in South Atlantic. 

Twelve races are considered "Lean Democratic," 25 are held by Democrats and considered a "Toss-Up," eight are held by the GOP and considered "Toss-Up," and 11 are considered "Lean GOP."

The poll surveyed up to 1,200 likely voters over 50 years old, with a margin of error for that age group of plus or minus 2.83 percentage points. 

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