2022 Midterm Elections During Uncertain Economic Times

by | Nov 8, 2022


With the Midterm election, much is at stake for both parties. Democrats would like to maintain or even expand their majorities in the House and Senate. Republicans, in contrast, would like a mandate to hit the brakes on President Biden’s agenda. While the Premise Poll finds Democrats (44%) leading Republicans (39%) by a modest margin overall in the generic congressional ballot, they face strong headwinds that may bolster the GOP. For one, the party in power almost always loses seats in the midterm vote. Moreover, the Premise Poll finds that voters believe that the economy is struggling – the top issue for this election – and that the country is on the wrong track.  


It’s the economy, stupid

James Carville called it in 1992, and it’s resonating in 2022. Despite the Democrats’ edge in the generic ballot, measures of fundamentals that drive voter behavior would appear to favor Republicans. In November, the Premise Poll found that 80% of Americans believe the economy is in either a poor or fair state. Marking a slight improvement in economic sentiment measured in late October, indicating 84% described the economy as fair or poor.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Premise Poll scores the economy as the top issue for voters (51%), and it isn’t particularly close. The economy is followed by healthcare (10%) and abortion (6%). We see a gender divide on the abortion issue: 10% of women report it is their top concern, versus only 1% of men. After the economy and health, Republicans identified immigration as the third most important (7%), while Democrats chose abortion (7%) third. Notably, violent crime, a focus of political ads and media coverage, does not appear to be resonating with voters and comes as the top concern for only 5% of respondents.   

Democrats retain a generic ballot edge among registered voters

According to the Premise Poll, Democrats hold a five point generic ballot edge, measuring whether voters believe Democrats or Republicans (but not specific candidates) should control Congress. This lead marks an improvement from the Premise Poll in October, in which Democrats held a maximum lead of only two points. Republicans edge Democrats by two points among men, while Democrats have an eleven point edge among women.

How will undecided voters break?

The Premise Poll found that 17% of registered voters in early November remain undecided. While this proportion has decreased somewhat since September, in recent midterm elections, late-deciding voters have tended to break against the party in power. Ultimately, and as always, it all comes down to turnout. If women vote with greater frequency and Democrats can hold their ground among late deciders, overall results will have a bluer hue.


Voters think things are on the wrong track

Another datapoint that may concern Democrats is our Right Track / Wrong Direction indicator. The November Premise Poll finds that 64% of Americans think the country is on the wrong track. This number has remained remarkably consistent over our polling since September. Traditionally, this perception has driven voters to vote for change, which in this case might favor Republicans.


Biden’s approval rating weighs on Democrats

President Biden’s net approval rating (percent who approve minus percent who disapprove) is underwater, at negative 22%. Unpopular presidents tend to drag down their parties in midterms: the Democratic wipeout in 2010 occurred at a time when then-President Obama’s approval rating was better than President Biden’s is today. Reflective of President Biden’s popularity issue, the Premise Poll reflects that a majority of both Democrats (53%) and Independents (66%) do not think he should run again in 2024. 


Trump’s Popularity Remains

Former President Donald Trump remains deeply popular among Republicans and enjoys a commanding lead (65%) as the 2024 Republican nominee of choice even in comparison to recently nicknamed Ron “Desanctimonious” Desantis (15%), likely indicating Trump is preparing for the primary challenge. Since late September, Trump has made gains against Biden in a head-to head match up, moving from 49% Trump – 51% Biden to most recently 53% Trump – 47% Biden but still a statistical toss up. Trump’s popularity is likely to have a positive impact for Republican candidates in the midterms and was evident in Trump’s recent campaigning for key elections. 


About Premise

Premise is a global on-demand insights company. Its technology mobilizes communities of global smartphone users to source actionable data in real-time, cost-effectively, and with needed visibility. In more than 140 countries and 37 languages, Premise finds Data for Every Decision. To learn more, please visit www.premise.com.


These results are based on responses from 1540 Americans collected between October 31st and November 2nd via the Premise smartphone application. Premise randomly sampled its opt-in panel members, stratified on Age, Gender, Region and Education, based on the 2019 American Community Survey (ACS). The results are weighted by Age, Gender, Region, and Education benchmarked against the 2019 ACS estimates. Respondents were compensated for their participation.

Premise Midterm Poll – Crosstabs PDF