Four in five voters see midterms as chance to send message about Trump

Four in five voters see midterms as chance to send message about Trump
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Nearly four out of every five voters see their ballot this year as an opportunity to send a message to President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE, a new poll finds, underscoring the degree to which Trump himself has infiltrated and influenced the midterm elections even if his name is not on the ballot.

The Harris Poll, conducted with Harvard University’s Center for American Political Studies, shows 42 percent of likely voters see their ballots as a chance to signal opposition to President Trump. Thirty-seven percent say their ballots are meant to show support for Trump.

Those figures show Trump is much more top of mind for voters — both those who support and oppose him — than either Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaKrystal Ball tears into 'Never Trump' Republicans Sanders campaign announces it contacted over 1 million Iowa voters Iowa Steak Fry to draw record crowds for Democrats MORE or George W. Bush were in the last four midterm elections. 

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In 2006, when Bush’s approval rating was in free fall and Democrats reclaimed control of Congress, 18 percent of voters said their ballots were meant to support Bush, and 31 percent said their votes were meant to oppose him, according to Gallup polling at the time.

In 2010, when Obama’s approval rating helped Republicans win back the House, 22 percent said their ballots were a message of support, while 30 percent said they were voting to oppose him.

“To the extent that people are energized, partisans on both sides are more energized in this election,” said Mark Penn, who conducted the poll. “They have Donald Trump on their minds, and a little bit of the economy.”

The poll shows Democrats holding a 50 percent to 44 percent lead over Republicans on the generic ballot, thanks to a huge 16-point advantage among women voters. Men favor Democrats by just a two-point margin, 45 percent to 43 percent.

Independents break for Democrats by a 42 percent to 27 percent margin, and suburban voters favor Democrats over Republicans, 48 percent to 39 percent.

“What I see here is a blue edge,” Penn said. “If there was a blue wave, it’d be a surprise.”

President Trump’s job approval stands at just 44 percent, down 2 percentage points from last month and 3 points higher than his nadir in recent Harris-Harvard polls. A majority of voters polled say they approve of Trump’s handling of the economy (57 percent), fighting terrorism (54 percent) and stimulating jobs (57 percent).

More voters say health care is a top issue, 39 percent, than any other concern. In another sign of Trump’s influence on the campaign, immigration has become the second most important issue. Thirty-five percent of all voters, and 38 percent of likely voters, in the survey said immigration is one of the most important issues facing the country today.

Democratic voters were more than twice as likely to cite health care as their top issue than were Republicans. Over half — 51 percent — of Republicans cited immigration, while just 20 percent of Democrats chose the issue.

Immigration has not been on Congress’s agenda in any meaningful way, but Trump has returned to the issue that fires up his core supporters in recent weeks, especially as a caravan of migrants has begun streaming north through southern Mexico toward the U.S. border.

“Trump has elevated [immigration], the caravan, the whole stuff,” Penn said.

The Harris Poll, conducted online between Oct. 26-28, surveyed 1,835 registered voters. The sample included 1,224 likely voters; that subset of data has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.