Abortion and the economy are running neck and neck as the most important issues for voters ahead of the upcoming midterm elections, according to a poll released Thursday.
The Monmouth University survey found that 26% of Americans say the economy is the top topic influencing their vote for Congress this November, while 25% say abortion is the big issue. The next-biggest issues are health care (16%), immigration (14%), gun control (9%), and taxes (8%).
By contrast, the Monmouth poll found in 2018 that health care was the most important issue to a plurality of voters (28%), followed by the economy (19%), immigration (18%), gun control (13%), abortion (9%) and taxes (7%). In those midterms, Democrats picked up 41 House seats to regain control of the lower chamber of Congress.
The poll was conducted after the publication last week of a leaked draft decision by Justice Samuel Alito that indicated the Supreme Court is on the cusp of striking down Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion across the country.
Meanwhile, Americans have been struggling to pay their monthly bills, gas up their vehicles and pay the rent as inflation has torn through the economy over the past year, hitting a 40-year high of 8.5% in March before receding slightly to 8.3% in April.
“The issue picture may be coming into focus with the economy and abortion as the top considerations right now. The importance of abortion coincides with the Supreme Court leak, which means it is hard to tell whether we are seeing a temporary blip or something that will have a major impact in November,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Abortion has increased in prominence as a make-or-break issue for Democrats over the past four years, with 48% calling it “extremely important” that a candidate’s views on abortion align with their own, compared to 31% who said so in 2018.
Among independents, 31% say a candidate sharing their abortion opinion is “extremely important,” compared to 27% in 2018. However, just 29% of Republicans felt the same way, compared to 36% four years ago.
With control of Congress at stake in the fall, voters are split on which party they want in charge. Currently, 36% of respondents favor Republicans while 34% want Democrats to hold Congress. When so-called “leaners” are included, the GOP leads on the generic ballot by 48% to 44%.
The poll also gave President Biden his lowest approval rating since taking office — 38%, down 16 percentage points from when he was sworn in last year. Appropriately, Biden’s 57% disapproval rating was its highest in the survey to date, up from the 30% disapproval in January 2021.
As bad as Biden’s approval rating is, Congress’ is worse, as a whopping 77% of Americans disapprove of the job the legislative branch is doing while 15% approve.
Most stunningly, 79% of Americans say the country is on the wrong track — up from 73% who said so in March and 51% who agreed after Biden took office in January 2021. Just 18% believe the US is heading in the right direction, down from the 42% who thought so when Biden took office.
The poll surveyed 807 adults between May 5 and 9 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.