Brown Poll Shows Democrats Have Midterm Edge in a Sharply Divided U.S.

Jul 9, 2018

A Brown University national  public opinion survey shows that Democrats hold a nine-point advantage over Republicans  on a generic 2018 congressional ballot with President Donald Trump’s job approval rating at 37 percent.

The poll of 1,000 respondents from across the United States also indicated that Democratic and Republican respondents remain mostly loyal to their party’s candidates and that support for Trump is higher among voters with the least amount of education. The survey also shows Trump with very strong backing among Republicans, who support the president at about 84 percent. Among those with less than a high school degree or are high school graduates, the president has a  44 percent approval rating.

The poll was conducted in late June. Just one in four respondents felt the federal government “listens to people like them.” And just one in five said the government could be trusted to ‘do what is right.” Black Americans are more likely than white respondents to feel ignored, mistreated andtreated like less than full citizens.

In contrast to widespread distrust of the federal government, large majorities of respondents said that they rarely felt mistreated by public schools (72 percent) or by their local governments (64 percent).

“Stark differences in Americans’ perceptions on issues ranging from economic well-being to immigration continue to emerge along party lines,” said Brown political scientist Susan Moffitt, director of the university’s Taubman Center. “Yet one area where the two sides share common ground is dissatisfaction with American democracy: Both sides feel forgotten and don’t trust the government to do what is right.”

A wide chasm is reported on the issue of illegal immigration. A plurality of Democrats and independents believe the issue has remained the same for the past decade (42 percent), 34 think it has gotten worse and 16 percent feel it has improved. But 75 percent of Republicans think illegal immigration has gotten much worse or somewhat worse over the past 10 years.

Moffitt said it is not yet clear how the attitudes revealed in the poll will influence the midterm elections. ”Control over the House remains uncertain and in play,” said Moffitt. “While Democrats have a lead overall on the generic ballot, Republicans currently have an edge among independent voters and a full 21 percent of the sample remains undecided.”

The results were based on an online panel of 1,000 respondents that the nonpartisan polling organization YouGov selected using a technique called matched random sampling.

Paul Testa, an assistant professor of political science at Brown, said in a statement that this method affords a national sample comparable to other polling methods, such as telephone surveys using random digit dialing. The sampling error is about plus or minus four percent, Testa said.