Politics explained

Why Republicans may be smiling in November – at least when it comes to voter turnout

Joe Biden has clearly had bigger things to think about this week than the midterm elections in November – with the Ukraine-Russia crisis – but there has been some interesting polling data to look at recently.

When it comes to what is known as the generic congressional ballot – polls that ask people which party they would support in an election – the average has Republicans ahead by 45.4 per cent to 41.6 per cent according to Real Clear Politics, so relatively close (although some of the most recent polls have widened that gap, which I will go into later).

The issue for Biden is that the majority of those recent polls involve registered voters, those “registered to vote in their precinct or election district”. But in midterm elections (as opposed to presidential elections) it is the most enthusiastic voters you would expect to turn out for their party. In a recent CNN poll, respondents were asked how set on voting they were in November – “extremely, very, somewhat, not too or not enthusiastic at all”. Among those who said they were extremely enthusiastic (24 per cent), Republicans held a 59 per cent to 39 per cent lead over Democrats on the generic congressional ballot.


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