Politics

Parties Even in Congressional Midterm Preferences

by Lydia Saad

Rise in voter enthusiasm after passage of healthcare has since steadied

PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup Daily tracking for the week ending April 4 finds the two major parties tied at 46% in the congressional voting preferences of registered voters nationally. In the two weeks since Congress passed healthcare reform on March 21, Democrats have tied or trailed the Republicans, after having at least a slight advantage in the weeks prior.

March-April 2010 Trend: Candidate Preference in 2010 Congressional Elections, Among Registered Voters

Given Republicans' typical voter turnout advantage in midterm elections, even Republican parity with the Democrats in the candidate preferences of registered voters could translate into significant Republican gains on Election Day.

While it is too early to predict voter turnout by party this November, Republicans continue to show much greater enthusiasm than Democrats about voting in the 2010 elections.

March-April 2010 Trend: Very Enthusiastic About Voting in This Year's Congressional Elections, Registered Voters by Party Affiliation

Enthusiasm rose among both parties after passage of healthcare reform on March 21, but has since leveled off among Democrats. The four percentage-point increase last week among Republicans (from 50% to 54%) is not statistically significant, but would be meaningful if it is maintained in this week's tracking.

Bottom Line

Gallup tracking from March through early April has consistently found voters closely divided in their congressional voting preferences. On average, the race for control of the House has been slightly tighter in the two weeks after passage of healthcare than it was earlier in March, when the Democrats led by a slight margin. However, the Republican gains seen in the first week after the vote ebbed slightly this past week, suggesting that any momentum the party received may have since stalled.

The details aside, the very close nature of the midterm contest to date suggests that voter turnout could be decisive, and affords no rest for either party.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,344 registered voters, aged 18 and older, conducted March 29-April 4, 2010, as part of Gallup Daily tracking. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones and cellular phones.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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