Poll finds GOP favored to win House; has 6-point lead over Democrats

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) leaves his weekly on-camera press conference with reporters on Wednesday, March 9, 2022.
Greg Nash

Republicans are favored to win back control of Congress in this year’s midterm elections, according to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris poll released exclusively to The Hill on Monday.

In the generic ballot test — which asks voters whether they would rather elect a Republican or Democrat to Congress — the GOP leads the Democratic party by a 53 percent to 47 percent margin. 

Among independents, Republicans gained an even more significant advantage. Fifty-nine percent of those respondents said they would choose the GOP candidate, while just 41 percent said they are more inclined to vote Democratic in November.

The poll is the latest sign that Democrats are facing an uphill battle ahead of the 2022 general elections, when Republicans will have a chance to win back the House majority that they lost in 2018. 

The results aren’t entirely surprising. Historically, the party in power tends to lose ground in midterm elections, and President Biden’s approval ratings are well underwater. 

The Harvard CAPS-Harris poll found that only 39 percent approve of Biden’s performance in the Oval Office, while 55 percent disapprove. 

Republicans are already feeling optimistic about their electoral prospects in November. During their annual retreat last week, House Republicans were briefed on an internal survey from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) that showed the GOP with a 4-point lead over Democrats on the generic ballot.

During that retreat, House Republicans also sought to outline their strategy for the 2022 midterms — a strategy that focuses intensely on issues like inflation and the cost of living. 

That message may ultimately pay off, according to the Harvard CAPS-Harris poll. Roughly one-third of respondents — 32 percent — in the poll said that inflation is the most important issue facing the country ahead of the 2022 midterms. In second place at 27 percent was the economy and jobs.

Bolstering the GOP’s numbers is the belief among most voters that the country — and even more so the economy — is on the wrong track, said Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS-Harris poll.

Only 34 percent of respondents said they believe the country is on the right track, according to the poll, while 58 percent said that things are heading in the wrong direction. Similarly, only 32 percent said the economy is on the right track compared to 60 percent who believe it’s on the wrong track. 

“This is a significant lead for the Republicans and shows building strength among key independent and suburban voters,” Penn said. “Typically, the shift is even greater in the swing districts, especially given the wrong track in the economy.”

The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey of 1,990 registered voters was conducted from March 23-24. It is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and the Harris Poll. 

The survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval. 

Tags 2022 midterms generic ballot House races Joe Biden Mark Penn Polling
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