Democrats and Republicans are locked in a statistical dead heat as the parties race to gain seats in Congress months before the midterm elections, according to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey released exclusively to The Hill.
Voters are split 50-50 when asked if they would vote for a Democratic or Republican candidate for Congress today. That’s a switch from May, when the same Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey showed the GOP was leading 51 percent to 49 percent.
The midterm elections are shaping up to be a close call as Republicans campaign on high inflation and a probable recession while Democrats seek to go on offense over the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and GOP opposition to climate change legislation and gun control.
Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey, said Republicans are losing ground they once held with swing voters — including moderate Democrats and independents who might vote for them.
“Despite poor ratings for the administration and big concerns about inflation, the Republican Party is still seen as too far to the right for these moderate Democrats and so they have not closed the sale on the midterms,” Penn said.
The president’s party generally loses seats in the House during their first midterm election, which has led many pundits to predict the House will flip to the GOP. Republicans need to pick up only a few seats to take the majority.
The Senate is a different situation, as a number of the competitive races are being held in states won by President Biden in 2020.
The most closely watched races include Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where Republicans are seeking to hold seats, and Arizona and Georgia, where Democratic incumbents are seeking full terms. Biden won all four of those states in the 2020 election.
Amid polarized times, neither political party is seen as highly favorable. About 48 percent of voters approve of the Republican Party, according to the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey, while 43 percent of voters approve of the Democratic Party.
The issue most expected to dominate the elections this year is inflation, a top concern for 36 percent of Democratic voters and 49 percent of GOP voters, the poll shows.
The second-most pressing issue is abortion rights, a major concern after the US Supreme Court eliminated what had been a 50-year constitutional right to abortion.
About 26 percent of voters are concerned about abortion access. Democrats, at 20 percent, are far more likely than Republicans, at 8 percent, to be concerned about abortion rights.
The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey was conducted from July 27 to July 28 among 1,885 registered voters.
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.