Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey

42% of Likely Voters Plan to Vote Democratic, 41% say Republican, This November

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The latest Reason-Rupe poll finds an Democrats and Republicans essentially tied on the generic House ballot. Among likely voters, 42 percent say they plan to vote Democratic while 41 percent say Republican. Likely voters are those who are registered and say they are certain or very likely to vote in the midterms.

One of the reasons for the tight ballot is that Republicans are more motivated to vote this November than Democrats or Independents. Among Republicans and Republican leaners, 89 percent are registered and say they are certain or very likely to vote, compared to 67 percent of Democrats. Fifty-nine percent of independents are registered and likely to vote.

When likely voters are offered the choice of which party they would prefer control Congress, 34 percent opt for "neither" party, 33 percent say Republicans, and 29 percent say Democrats. Part of the reason for this Republican edge is that even though 54 percent of non-partisan independents would rather "neither" party control Congress; more prefer Republican to Democratic control 26 to 12 percent respectively.

Offering the choice for voters to say they prefer "neither" party control Congress provides important nuance to their congressional ballot choices. For instance, at first glance 56 percent of 18-29 year olds say they'll vote Democratic and 36 percent will vote Republican. However, their Democratic support is tenuous with only 30 percent favoring Democratic control of Congress, 28 percent favoring Republican control, and fully 41 percent saying neither party should control Congress. These results echo earlier findings showing that millennials view Democrats as the better of two bad options. (Additional  examples can be found in the crosstabs).

Nearly four out of 10 likely voters, 39 percent, say the economy is the number one issue influencing how they'll vote in the November elections. Perhaps surprisingly, education is the second most important issue to voters (16 percent), followed by foreign policy (15 percent), immigration (10 percent), and health care (10 percent).

When asked which economic issue is most important to their vote, three primary groups emerge: 24 percent say government spending, 23 percent say jobs, and another 23 percent say the gap between rich and poor. Following those, 13 percent said the budget deficit, 9 percent said taxes, and only 6 percent mentioned business regulation was the most important economic issue for their vote.

Issue priorities vary by partisanship. Four in 10 independents and Republicans prioritize the economy compared to 28 percent of Democrats. Conversely, Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to prioritize education—25 v 12 percent respectively, and 15 percent of independents. Conversely, independents and Republicans are nearly twice as likely as Democrats to prioritize national security (17 to 9 percent).

Young Americans are slightly more likely to say education (33%) is most important to their vote this November than is the economy (29%). Moving across older age cohorts, education as a priority declines to 18 percent among 45-54 year olds and 8 percent among seniors while importance of the economy rises to 35 percent.

Issue priorities also vary by race/ethnicity. Hispanics are nearly twice as likely as Caucasians to say education is most important to their vote this November (25 to 14 percent), the same is true on immigration (20 to 10 percent respectively). African-Americans are the most likely to identify education (36 percent) as most relevant to their vote followed by the economy (31%). Caucasians primarily place weight on the economy (36%) and national security (16%).

Economic issue prioritization also varies across partisanship. The top three economic priorities for Republican voters are government spending (32%), jobs (19%), and the budget deficit (17%). But for Democrats, the top three are reducing the income gap (37%), jobs (26%), followed by government spending (16%). Independents rank jobs (32%) then government spending (26%) followed by the income gap (17%).

* If we define both groups as those who prefer smaller government with fewer services, but libertarian-leaners as those who say government should not promote traditional values and conservative leaners as those who say government should promote traditional values, they each comprise 27 percent of the sample.

The Reason-Rupe national telephone poll, executed by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, conducted live interviews with 1000 adults on cell phones (500) and landlines (500) August 6-10, 2014. The poll's margin of error is +/-3.7%. Full poll results can be found here. including poll toplines (pdf)  and crosstabs (xls).