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Voters Favor Candidates Who Promise to Be a Check on Trump

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

Bill Clinton famously campaigned under the mantra “It’s the economy, stupid,” assuming voters would choose the candidate they saw as most likely to create jobs and economic growth. Under this assumption, Trump-allied candidates in the 2018 midterm elections should be shoo-ins.

According to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, however, while six in 10 Americans are currently satisfied with the economy, and a plurality credit Donald Trump for it, most voters surveyed prefer candidates who promise to be a check on the president. The favorable state of the economy simply is not enough to generate heavy support for Trump allies in the midterms.

In fact, according to NBC News, voters who say they’re more likely to vote for a candidate who disagrees with the president on most issues come out on top by “a whopping 25-point margin.”

As NBC News reports:

And 48 percent of voters indicate they’re more likely to support a congressional candidate who promises to provide a check on President Trump, compared with 23 percent who say they’re less likely to support such a candidate.

By contrast, a majority — 53 percent — say they’re less likely to vote for a candidate who supports the president on most issues.

The poll also shows Democrats with a 10-point advantage over Republicans in the upcoming congressional elections. Half the voters surveyed preferred a majority Democratic Congress, with 40 percent preferring a Republican one. It’s a plurality rather than a majority, meaning more poll respondents preferred Democrats than Republicans, but neither had a majority of responses, as 10 percent of respondents were not sure which party they preferred.

Democrats now have a 10-point advantage on this question. In April, the last time this poll was conducted, their advantage was seven points.

Trump’s approval rating also has climbed—to 44 percent, but as Greg Sargent observes in The Washington Post, “That is not far off the approval suffered by other presidents who were hit by wave elections.” Even so, he notes that the generic ballot has tightened and says, “There could be a wave and Dems could still fall short, due to structural disadvantages and the Democrats’ 23-seat deficit.”

Some Democratic pollsters remain optimistic. Fred Yang, who conducted the poll with Republican pollster Bill McInturff, told NBC, “I think this is becoming a traditional midterm where the party controlling the White House is going to lose seats.”

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Ilana Novick
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