By CASEY HARPER
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Republicans have extended their lead over Democrats in Congressional races just days away from the midterm elections, according to newly released polling data.
A new USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll found that those surveyed favor Republicans to Democrats, 49% to 45%. This poll is a major shift from July, when Democrats led Republicans 44% to 40% in the same poll.
The University of Virginia Center for Politics announced this week that Republicans officially had enough Congressional races in the “lean Republican” category to take the 218 seats needed for a majority, meaning they can win the majority even if they lose all of the “toss-up” races.
“A large number of races remain close and competitive,” said Kyle Kondik with the Center for Politics. “The danger for Democrats is that these races end up breaking disproportionately to the Republicans. After these changes, 218 seats at least Lean Republican, while 195 at least Lean Democratic, and there are 22 Toss-ups. Splitting the Toss-ups evenly, 11-11, would give Republicans 229 seats, or a net gain of 16.”
“We suspect the Republicans will do better than just a split in the Toss-ups, so our updated forecast is a GOP gain in the high teens or low 20s,” he added.
Economic issues have been a key driver for voters, and the USA Today/Suffolk University poll found that many Americans have felt the pain of inflation and are responding accordingly. According to the survey, 61% percent are eating out less often and 50% have postponed or canceled vacations.
These findings echo a recent Morning Consult poll which found that 82% of American shoppers say they have tried to save money at the grocery store, with many of them even buying less food.
Gas prices have also been a key issue after hitting record highs over the summer. Convention of States Action, along with Trafalgar Group, released a new poll that found “54.4 percent of voters say rising gas prices will make them more likely to vote for Republican candidates in the 2022 midterm elections.”
The economic concerns have been a major driver for Republicans, especially as the Democratic fervor from the reversal of Roe v. Wade earlier this year has failed to surpass other top issues, though it has moved up on the list.
Gallup’s “most important problems” list tracks the issues most concerning to Americans on a monthly basis. The latest data from September showed 38% of Americans chose an economic issue as their top concern with 17% citing inflation and 12% pointing to the economy in general. Only 4% of Americans chose abortion as the most important problem, behind 5% naming race relations and 6% choosing immigration. Crime matched abortion at 4%.