Poll: A pox on both their houses? Americans split on control of Congress | Wednesday Coffee

A new Monmouth University poll is seriously bad news for Democrats. But is there still a path in November?

July 6, 2022 7:35 am

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 05: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) speak to reporters at the U.S. Capitol building as the House prepares to vote on infrastructure and spending bills, on November 5, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images)

Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

A new Monmouth University poll finds Americans in what, charitably, can be described as a grim mood over the economy and gas prices. And President Joe Biden’s approval ratings are continuing to take a beating ahead of a critically important midterm election.

But even with that tidal wave of bad news, voters remain fundamentally split on whether they’d be better off with Republicans or Democrats in charge on Capitol Hill in 2023, suggesting that there may yet be time for the Dems to get their act together before voters head to the polls in November.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents to the poll of 978 U.S. adults prefer to have Democrats continuing to run things, compared to 36 percent of of those who prefer the Republicans, pollsters found.

If you add in the “leaners” among those who initially said party control doesn’t matter, the GOP gets an 11-point bounce, while Democrats get a 9 percent shift, leaving the two parties tied at a statistically insignificant 47 percent apiece, according to the poll.

And for those of you playing along at home, 60 percent of respondents told pollsters it’s very important to have their preferred party in power.

The Monmouth poll, conducted from June 23 to June 27, had a 3.1 percent margin of error.

PennDOT paving crews (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania photo)
PennDOT paving crews (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania photo)

National Democrats have spent months furiously trying to sell the public on the benefits of Biden’s pandemic relief package and the bipartisan infrastructure bill. The new poll’s results, however, suggest that, confronted by the GOP’s noise machine, and pain at the pump, voters still aren’t buying it.

More than half of all respondents (54 percent) said the middle class hasn’t benefited from the Democratic White House’s policies, up from 36 percent a year ago. It’s also higher than the 36 percent who said the same thing about President Donald Trump in his first term, and the 46 percent who said it about former President Barack Obama in 2013, when Monmouth first asked the question.

A similar number, 52 percent, said poorer Americans have not benefited from Biden’s policies, which is about the same as Trump (53 percent) in 2018, but it’s still higher than the 29 percent who responded that way in 2021, according to the poll.

Inflation and gas prices topped the list of voters’ concerns in the Monmouth poll, while some (6 percent) said they’re worried about paying their bills. And those concerns cut across racial and partisan lines.

“Economic concerns tend to rise to the top of the list of family concerns, as you might expect, but the singular impact of inflation is really hitting home right now. And most Americans are blaming Washington for their current pain,” Monmouth’s polling director, Patrick Murray, said in a statement.

It’s not a surprise, then, to see Biden’s approval ratings take a hit as a result of American’s sour mood.

Little more than a third of respondents — 36 percent — said they approved of Biden’s job performance, compared to 58 percent who said they disapproved. Nearly nine in 10 respondents (88 percent) said the country is on the wrong track. That’s an all-time low for the question going back to 2013, pollsters noted.

The U.S. Capitol. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/The Virginia Mercury).

Which brings us back to that earlier partisan split mentioned above.

Just as half of life is simply showing up, control of Congress similarly will depend on which party is better at getting its voters out to the polls.

“The state of the economy has Americans in a foul mood. They are not happy with Washington. However, that has not changed the overall picture of whom they want in control of Congress. The question is who actually shows up to vote in the fall,” Murray said.

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Our Stuff.
A proposal to expand video gambling at Pennsylvania truck stops is a bargaining chip in Pennsylvania’s overdue budget talks, Peter Hall reports.

Cutting Pennsylvania’s corporate tax rate, which is among the highest in the nation, has emerged as one of the rare items of bipartisan agreement this budget season, our summer intern, Jaxon White, reports.

A state representative and several Philadelphia City Council members have called on Mayor Jim Kenney to resign after he said he’s looking forward to not being the mayor anymore during a television news interview about the shooting at the Welcome America event on July 4. Our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune have the story.

A local public interest law firm has filed 62 complaints against an Allegheny County judge, whom it accuses of “impatient, undignified, and discourteous” behavior and bias against Black men, older people, and people with mental or behavioral health issues. Our partners at Pittsburgh City Paper have the story.

On our Commentary Page this morning: The Niagara Movement, a precursor to NAACPfought for economic and civil rights, opinion regular Michael Coard writes. And policymakers have yet to embrace a full transformation in public safety that we need to make all our communities safer and more just, Ben Jealous, of People for the American Way, writes.

Josh Shapiro about to speak a press conference
Attorney General and 2022 Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Josh Shapiro at a press conference outside Harrisburg on March 24, 2022. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

Nine Republicans, whose ranks include former state and federal lawmakers, have endorsed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh ShapiroPennLive reports.

PoliticsPA has five takeaways from Salon’s feature on GOP governor hopeful Doug Mastriano.

The Inquirer has more on the July 4 shooting on the Ben Franklin Parkway that injured two city police officers and sent spectators scrambling.

The Post-Gazette updates on talks on the 2022-23 state budget.

The Morning Call delves into some recent Census data, finding the commonwealth is getting older and more diverse.

PennDOT has announced plans to replace the deteriorating Black Mountain Bridge in Luzerne County, the Citizens’ Voice reports.

Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:


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What Goes On
The House comes in at 3 p.m. today. The Senate reconvenes at 6 p.m.

Gov. Tom Wolf has no public schedule today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept
Best wishes go out this morning to Capital-Star Correspondent Nick Field, who racks up another trip around the sun today. Congratulations, sir. Enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation
Here’s a tune that invariably reminds me of summer and New England beaches, even if it was released at one of the darkest hours of the pandemic. From her Folklore LP, it’s Taylor Swift’s ‘The Last Great American Dynasty.’

Wednesday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link
The Baltimore Orioles edged out the visiting Texas Rangers 10-9 in a scoring derby on Tuesday. The Os’ Ryan McKenna homered on the way to the win.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.