Democrats Have Big Enthusiasm Edge for 2018

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s newest national poll finds that the Democratic enthusiasm that led to strong finishes in special elections in Georgia and Kansas over the last week is a national phenomenon.

Democrats lead the generic Congressional ballot 47-41. But what’s more notable is the enthusiasm imbalance. 63% of Democrats say they’re ‘very excited’ about voting in the 2018 election, compared to only 52% of Republicans who express that sentiment. When you look at the 2018 House picture just among the voters most excited about turning out next year, the lead for Democrats grows to 19 points at 57-38. Republican leaning voters are comparatively disengaged, with the GOP holding advantages only among voters who are ‘somewhat excited’ (48-40) and ‘not that excited’ (46-31).

One reason for the comparative lack of Republican excitement may be the continued unpopularity of Donald Trump. Only 43% of voters approve of the job he’s doing to 50% who disapprove. The core promise of Trump’s campaign was to ‘Make America Great Again,’ but only 35% of voters actually think he’s accomplished that goal to 55% who think he hasn’t. 

Foreign policy has taken on a larger role in the national discussion in recent weeks and Trump’s leadership on that front isn’t inspiring a ton of confidence. 39% of voters think he will get the United States into World War III during his Presidency, to just 40% of voters who don’t think he’s going to have that effect. Trump has continued to attack the Obama administration’s approach to foreign policy lately, but by a 51/39 spread voters think Obama had a better handle on foreign policy than Trump. And by a 51/43 split, voters would rather still have Obama than Trump as President overall.

One finding that may best sum it all up when it comes to how down voters are on Trump: by a 42/40 spread, they have a higher opinion of United Airlines than they do of him.

Other findings from our national poll:

-The strong early numbers for Democrats in the 2018 Congressional picture aren’t just a function of Trump’s unpopularity. Both Paul Ryan (30/53 approval) and Mitch McConnell (24/48) are very unpopular on the national scene as well. Overall Congress has just an 18% approval rating, with 65% of voters disapproving of it.

-One issue that particularly sunk Ryan’s numbers was health care, and we continue to find less and less resistance to just keeping the Affordable Care Act. We find 47% support for it on this poll, but more notable than that we find the level of opposition to it down to only 31%. Even among Republican voters there’s now barely a majority- 51%- that expresses opposition to the ACA. Just 30% of voters want to repeal it, compared to 62% who say the best path forward is to keep what works in it and fix what doesn’t.

-One thing Trump could do that voters would support is get rid of Steve Bannon. Bannon has only a 21% favorability rating, compared to 50% of voters who see him negatively. Only 26% think Trump should keep Bannon on his staff, to 45% who think he should fire Bannon.

-Another thing Trump could do to help himself is work a little bit harder. Only 36% of voters think the amount of he’s spent at Mar-a-Lago as President so far is appropriate, to 49% who say they think it’s inappropriate. Voters are picking up on how much golf Trump has played- 48% believe he’s played more golf during his first 3 months in office compared to only 28% who think Barack Obama played more at the start of his term. (Trump voters do say 53/20 that they think Obama played more though).

-Voters continue to have a lot of basic transparency concerns with Trump. The newest one is the decision to no longer make publicly available White House visitor logs. 63% of voters think these should continue to be made available, to only 24% who think they shouldn’t be. This is an issue that Clinton voters (78/14) and Trump voters (48/36) are in agreement on.

62% of voters think Trump should release his tax returns to 31% who don’t think it’s necessary for him to. Trump’s voters are going along with his claim that Tax Day protesters across the country demanding his returns were paid to do so though. 66% of Trump voters think that George Soros paid the protesters last weekend, to only 4% who say they don’t think so.

The transparency concerns voters have about Trump may stem back to a lack of trust- only 41% of voters believe Trump is honest to 54% who say they don’t think he is.

-The Russia issue isn’t going anywhere- 61% of voters want an independent investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 Presidential election and ties to key Trump aides, compared to only 29% of voters opposed to such an investigation. A majority of voters- 55%- continues to believe that Russia wanted Trump to win the election to only 22% who think it wanted Clinton to win (although Trump voters claim 42/22 that they think it wanted Clinton to win.)

The finding of an independent investigation could be devastating to Trump’s presidency. Right now voters are pretty evenly divided with 41% believing members of Trump’s campaign team worked in association with Russia to help Trump win the election and 40% saying they don’t think there was any direct coordination. But if it does come out that Russia and Trump’s team were working together, only 38% of voters think Trump should continue serving as President to 52% who think he should resign.

Just 35% of voters consider the Russia story to be ‘fake news.’

-We tested some early 2020 match ups for President and Trump has deficits of 14 points against Joe Biden (54/40), 9 points against Bernie Sanders (50/41), and 4 points against Elizabeth Warren (46/42). Trump does at least manage ties with Al Franken at 43% and Cory Booker at 42%, although previous polling we’ve done has found neither of them is universally well known nationally.

-Finally we reupped a 2013 poll we did on airlines to help quantify the damage United Airlines did to itself last week.

In 2013 United had a +20 net favorability rating (33/13). It’s dropped a net 44 points to -24 at 23/47. When we asked who people thought the worst airline in the country was in 2013 it was closely bunched with American getting 10%, Delta 9%, United 8%, and Southwest 6%. It’s not closely bunched anymore- United ‘wins’ by a wide margin with 40% saying it’s the worst airline to 10% for American, 8% for Southwest, and 6% for Delta.

Southwest is the winner in the airline wars. 35% say they think it’s the best airline to 20% for Delta, 14% for American, and just 4% for United. Southwest also has the best favorability of the airlines, with 58% of voters seeing it positively to just 9% with a negative opinion. 

Delta’s seen an improvement in its image since 2013- it went from a +22 favorability at 35/13 to a +31 one at 45/14. American’s gone in the wrong direction- it was at +21 (36/15) in 2013 and has dropped now to +4 at 31/27.

Full results here

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