In Midterms, Dems Gain With Young Voters, Slip With Hispanics

by Lydia Saad

Barely half of Hispanics in September planned to vote Democratic

PRINCETON, NJ -- Registered voters aged 18 to 29 were more likely in September than in August to favor the Democratic candidate in their congressional district, resulting in the widest generational gaps so far this year in the vote for Congress.

Vote for Congress, Monthly Averages by Age, March-September 2010

According to the September data, young registered voters favored the Democrats by 55% to 36% over the Republicans -- a 19-percentage-point margin. That was up from 9 points in August, and contrasts with a 12-point advantage for the Republicans in September among seniors (52% to 40%).

While young adults have turned more Democratic in their voting preferences, seniors grew progressively more likely to favor the Republicans in July and August, and maintained that higher support level in September.

Hispanics' Preferences Shift, While Whites' and Blacks' Are Stable

Hispanic voters' support for Democratic candidates waned in August and September. As a result, Hispanics in September favored Democrats by a 13-point margin (51% to 38%), compared with 32-point margins in June and July.

Whites in September favored Republican over Democratic candidates by a 14-point margin, similar to their support level in most other months this year. The vast majority of blacks continued to favor Democrats.

Vote for Congress, Monthly Averages by Race/Ethnicity, March-September 2010

Gallup also finds that Democrats did sharply better in the East in September than in any month since the start of Gallup Daily tracking of the vote for Congress. Support for the Democrats in the other three regions was up a bit from where it stood in August, but remained slightly lower than it was earlier in the year. The Democrats trail the Republicans in all regions but the East.

Vote for Congress, Monthly Averages by Region, March-September 2010

Nationwide, Republicans and Democrats have been closely matched in Gallup's monthly averages of the vote for Congress this year, although the Republicans enjoyed elevated support in August. The two parties were tied at 46% across the more than 8,000 interviews conducted with registered voters in September.

Nationwide Generic Ballot Vote for Congress, Monthly Averages, March-September 2010

Bottom Line

President Barack Obama's efforts this week to stir young voters to turn out in November on behalf of his party's candidates come as Gallup finds support among this group -- so important to the Democrats' success in 2008 -- improving. Gallup's September polling suggests that young voters remain in the Democrats' corner, and show increased support at a time when seniors have shifted more to the Republicans. The key question is whether young adults will vote in big enough numbers to offset the impact of the senior vote. The most recent indications on this from Gallup polling are not promising for the Democrats.

Hispanics present a different problem for the president's party. While they voted strongly for Obama in 2008 and were supposed to be one of the building blocks of Democratic victory in 2010, Gallup's recent polling suggests their support for Democratic congressional candidates is slipping. This is in line with Hispanics' dwindling approval of Obama as president, with the initial decline seen in May possibly linked to the Democrats' failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

The detailed September results of Gallup's generic ballot measure of the vote for Congress, based on registered voters, are shown on page 2.

Explore more Gallup data relating to the upcoming congressional midterm elections, including Gallup's complete generic ballot trend since 1950, in our Election 2010 Key Indicators interactive.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Sept. 2-26, 2010, with a random sample of 8,773 registered voters, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For results based on the total sample of registered voters, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each daily sample includes a minimum quota of 150 cell phone respondents and 850 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, cell phone-only status, cell phone-mostly status, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2009 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

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.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.

Vote for Congress -- Monthly Averages for September 2010, by Demographic Group

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