PRINCETON, NJ — Republicans maintain a substantial advantage over Democrats among likely voters in Gallup’s generic ballot for Congress — in both lower- and higher-turnout scenarios — fueled in part by the GOP’s strong showing among independents.
Gallup’s latest election update shows that if all registered voters were to turn out, 44% of voters would favor the Democratic candidate in their district and 47% would favor the Republican candidate. The race has been close since the beginning of September, suggesting there has been little structural change in Americans’ broad voting intentions in recent weeks.
Among voters Gallup estimates to be most likely to vote at this point under either a higher- or lower-turnout scenario, Republicans maintain substantial double-digit advantages. In Gallup’s higher-turnout scenario, Republicans lead 53% to 41%. In Gallup’s lower-turnout scenario, Republicans lead 56% to 39%. These likely voter estimates are based on respondents’ answers to seven turnout questions, with the results used to assign a “likelihood to vote” score to each registered voter and, in turn, to create hypothetical models of the electorate based on various turnout scenarios.
In addition to turnout, independents’ voting intentions are a critical determinant of the midterm election outcome — particularly relevant, given that more than 90% of Democrats and 90% of Republicans say they will vote for their party’s candidate in the elections. At this point, independents tilt strongly toward the Republican candidate in their district, helping shift the race in the GOP’s direction.
Independents in general this year are more likely to lean toward identifying with the Republican Party than they are to lean toward the Democratic Party. Republican-leaning independents are also more likely to be classified as likely voters than are Democratic-leaning independents. Both of these factors work to the GOP’s advantage among likely voters.
The Republican advantage among all registered-voter independents is 10 percentage points, 46% vs. 36%, underscoring the Republican tilt among independents even if all registered voters were to turn out. But among the two groups of likely voters, the Republican margin among independents expands to 21 to 25 points.