The top two concerns for voters are the future of the country and inflation.
They also appear ready to oust the incumbent party in this fall’s elections, with 39% favoring the Democratic candidate in their House district and 46% backing the Republican, if voting today.
That 7-point advantage is up from 2 points last month and is the largest Republicans have held this year. Fox News models suggest this would be a 44-seat swing in the House and an 11-seat swing in the Senate.
“The congressional ballot numbers are highly correlated with changes in the partisan distribution of seats,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the Fox News Poll with Democratic pollster Chris Anderson. “They may bounce around quite a bit in the next few months, but if we see a 7-point Republican advantage in the national vote this fall, we’re going to see a wave election for the GOP.”
These are some of the findings from a Fox News national survey of registered voters released Tuesday.
Views on the economy are grim, with most saying the economy is in bad shape and high prices are a hardship. More than twice as many also say they are worse off financially than they were two years ago.
Republicans lead Democrats among those who are “extremely” concerned about inflation by 23 points and those worried about the future of the country by 19.
The number saying the economy is in positive shape has declined since President Biden took office, as sentiment stands at its worst since May 2020. Only 21% rate conditions positively, down from 33% in Dec. 2020. Seventy-seven percent rate the economy negatively — including majorities of Republicans (88%), independents (82%), and Democrats (63%).
Two-thirds think inflation will continue to be a major issue for at least another year.
It already hurts for many. Three-quarters say recent price increases pose a financial hardship for their family. And increasing numbers say they are a “serious” hardship. Higher grocery prices are a serious problem for 44%, up from 36% in February. Same story on gas prices: 44% serious hardship, up from 35%.
It’s not surprising then that by a 26-point margin, voters are more likely to say they are worse off financially compared to two years ago (18% better, 44% worse).
“Economic evaluations are clearly driving the congressional ballot at this point,” says Shaw. “The preponderance of political science research says that second quarter economic numbers are most critical for the election, so there is a small window for the economy to rebound and the administration to turn things around politically.”
Out of 14 concerns measured, the two greatest are the future of the country and inflation, with 87% extremely or very concerned about both.
Other top concerns include the future of American democracy (84%), political divisions within the country (81%), Ukraine (80%), and higher crime rates (79%). About three-quarters worry about what’s taught in schools (74%), gun laws (73%) and opioid addiction (72%), while 7 in 10 feel that way about illegal immigration (71%), abortion policy (69%) and book banning (67%). Smaller majorities are concerned about climate change (57%) and coronavirus (55%).
Biden receives his lowest job ratings for his handling of inflation. Some 28% approve and 67% disapprove, putting him underwater by 39 points.
His marks are also net negative on Ukraine (-6 points), climate change (-12), Russia (-16), guns (-23), the economy (-25), crime (-26), and immigration (-29). The pandemic remains the only issue where Biden receives a positive rating: 49% approve and 47% disapprove.
Thirty-eight percent of Democrats disapprove of Biden on inflation. While that’s far below the 70% of independents and 90% of Republicans who disapprove, it is the highest disapproval he receives from Democrats on any issue.
Overall, 45% of voters approve of the job Biden is doing as president, while 53% disapprove. It was 45-54% last month. A year ago, it was the reverse, 54-43% (April 2021).
For comparison, at around this same point in the election cycle, former President Obama’s job rating stood at 48% approve – 43% disapprove (May 2010). For Trump, it was 44% approve – 53% disapprove (April 2018).
Biden has lost significant ground with several key voting blocs. Compared to the highest approval ever received among the group, his current approval is down by double digits among Hispanic voters (-21), those under age 30 (-20), self-described liberals (-15), Black voters (-14), and women (-11).
Overall, 32% are satisfied with how things are going in the country today. More than twice as many, 67%, are dissatisfied — up from 53% who were dissatisfied at the 100-day mark of Biden’s presidency.
“This is a brutal environment for Democrats heading into the midterms, as voters overwhelmingly disapprove of Biden’s job performance on inflation while they feel its bite more each day. It can be argued Biden isn’t to blame, but that’s not the argument that is going to maintain control of Congress,” says Anderson.
“Voters need to see Democrats taking inflation seriously, not deflecting blame.”
Adding to Democrats’ concerns: While equal numbers of Democrats (43%) and Republicans (42%) feel energized about politics these days, more Republicans (52%) than Democrats (41%) are extremely interested in the midterms. That helps the GOP hold a 19-point advantage among voters extremely interested in the election.
– More voters blame current gas prices on government regulations (77%) than say domestic oil companies (71%), the policies of the Biden administration (70%) or the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin (66%) are responsible.
– There are major partisan gaps on issue concerns. More Republicans than Democrats are concerned about illegal immigration (by 34 points), and about crime rates and what’s taught in public schools (both by 16 points). More Democrats than Republicans worry about COVID (by 26 points) and climate change (by 49 points).
– By a 54-33% margin, voters think tougher penalties for people who commit crimes with guns would be more likely to decrease gun violence than tighter restrictions on people buying guns.
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– While about three-quarters of both Democrats and Republicans are concerned about gun laws, they disagree on how to reduce gun violence. By a 16-point margin Democrats say tighter restrictions on guns, while Republicans say tougher penalties on gun crimes by 52 points.
– Vice President Kamala Harris’ current job rating is 41% approve and 53% disapprove.
– Twenty-six percent approve of the job Congress is doing, while a majority of 66% disapproves.
Conducted April 28-May 1, 2022 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R), this Fox News Poll includes interviews with 1,003 registered voters nationwide who were randomly selected from a national voter file and spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones. The total sample has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.
Fox News’ Victoria Balara contributed to this report.