Democrats gain strength for 2018 midterms

December 29, 2017

Democrats have a distinct advantage over Republicans in a hypothetical Congressional 2018 midterm matchup, based on findings of a CNN poll conducted by SSRS and released on December 20. .

Concurrently, the news network says, enthusiasm about voting next year is increasing among Democrats nationwide following an unexpected win in Alabama’s Senate special election last month and a strong showing in Virginia’s state government elections.

Among registered voters nationwide, 56% say they favor a Democrat in their congressional district, while 38% prefer a Republican. That 18-point edge represents the largest advantage that Democrats have held, according to CNN polling on the 2018 contests—and the largest at this point in midterm election cycles dating back two decades.

The CNN finding follows several other public polls showing large double-digit leads for Democrats on similar questions.

What’s more, Independent voters favor Democrats by a 16-point margin, 51% to 35%—similar to the 50% to 36% margin by which they favored Democrats in fall of 2005, before the party recaptured the House and Senate in 2006.

The Democrats hold a larger lead overall now because Republicans make up a smaller share of the electorate than they did in 2005, according to a Gallup Poll finding earlier this month. Indeed, only 38% of Americans now self-identified as Republican or Republican-leaning Independents during 2017, based on an average of monthly numbers from Gallup.

And those Republicans who are still in the electorate are less enthusiastic about voting next year than are the Democrats. Overall, 49% of registered voters who self-identify as Democratic or Democratic-leaning Independents say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting for Congress next year, compared with 32% of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independent voters who say the same.

The GOP may be further disadvantaged by a public displeased and angry with the way the country is being governed under their control. Overall, 68% say they are dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed, and a matching 68% say they are angry about the way things are going in the country today. Among Democrats, satisfaction has fallen from 40% to 6%. Anger, too, has switched sides, with half of Democrats now saying they are “very angry” about the way things are going, up from 14% in 2015. Among Republicans, deep anger has dipped from 41% in 2015 to 10% now.

The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS between December 14 and December 17 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer.

Research contact: jennifer.agiesta@cnn.com

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