Cook Political Report – LSU Manship School Poll Finds Democrats Hold Lead Over Republicans in Key Midterm Battleground Districts

Baton Rouge, LA – Democrats hold a lead over Republicans in battleground districts that will decide control of the U.S. House of Representatives, according to a new exhaustive national survey conducted by The Cook Political Report and LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication in collaboration with Manship School Fellow James Carville. The poll shows Democrats lead Republicans 48 percent to 36 percent among registered voters in the 72 most competitive districts, as rated by the Cook Political Report.

Trump Weighing Down Republican Prospects In House

The poll also shows that President Trump is weighing down Republican prospects in the battle for the House. Nearly two-thirds of voters say that President Trump will be a factor in how they vote in the midterm elections, and in competitive districts far more of these voters said they are casting ballots to show opposition to the President (42 percent) than to show support for the President (23 percent).

2018 Similar to 2010 – in Reverse

Results from the poll underscore the similarities between now and the 2010 election season, but in reverse. Today, 49 percent of Americans feel frustrated about Donald Trump’s presidency – the same share that said they felt frustrated about Barack Obama’s presidency during the first round of midterm elections in his administration. However, the partisanship of voters expressing frustration has flipped. Eight years ago, these were overwhelmingly Republicans. Today they are overwhelmingly Democrats. A similar pattern is apparent among those feeling “angry,” “proud” or “hopeful” about the presidency.

Americans Confident in Election Integrity, But Differs By Media Use and Party

Americans are also confident about the integrity of elections overall, with 77 percent reporting that they are at least somewhat confident that their votes will be counted accurately. This is especially true among those who prefer to get their news from a print newspaper, 54 percent of whom say they are very confident their votes will be counted accurately. The share is 20 to 25 points lower among those who chiefly rely on websites, smartphone apps or social networking sites for their news. Democrats are more likely to say foreign interference poses a greater threat to the integrity of our elections (64 percent say it is likely or very likely) than voter fraud (38 percent say it happens somewhat often or very often); whereas Republicans were more likely to say voter fraud poses a bigger threat (52 percent say it happens somewhat often or very often) than foreign interference (24 percent say it is likely or very likely).

Nearly Two-Thirds Want New Leadership in 2020 Election

Nationally, 62 percent of Americans said they think President Trump deserves to be voted out of office in 2020, and 35 percent say he deserves to be re-elected. These responses closely mirror the president’s approval ratings, which stand at 56 percent disapproval and 36 percent approval in this poll. While most Republicans (78 percent) say he deserves to be reelected in 2020, a sizeable share of Republicans (41 percent) said they would nevertheless like to see the President face a serious primary challenge.

“This survey confirms the belief that many of us had that Republicans face a distinctly uphill challenge in holding onto their House majority.  So many of the most competitive district contests are being fought in suburbs, where President Trump is a real liability.  This is not the case in the Senate, which is being fought on a completely different battlefield, mostly in more conservative, red Republican states and where Republicans are far more likely to gain ground,” Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report said.

“These results indicate that the mood in the country – whether it’s feelings toward the president or attitudes about incumbent members of Congress – tilt to the favor of Democrats, particularly in the districts that make up the battleground for control of the U.S. House. The remaining question is whether this mood will translate into a pattern of turnout that shapes the outcomes in individual contests,” Michael Henderson, Ph.D., director of the Manship School’s Public Policy Research Lab and lead researcher on the poll, said.  

See the full survey results here.

The survey was funded by philanthropic supporters of the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication. The survey instrument was developed by the Public Policy Research Lab at LSU in collaboration with the Cook Political Report.

LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication ranks among the strongest collegiate communication programs in the country, with its robust emphasis on media and public affairs. Its public relations students were recently ranked the #1 team in the nation, and its digital advertising and student media teams frequently earn national recognition. The Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs is the primary vehicle for the Manship School’s outreach and external engagement activities. The Center is partnership-driven, action-oriented, and dedicated to exploring contemporary issues at the intersection of mass communication and public life. Its interdisciplinary approach draws together experts from diverse fields to advance research and dialogue. The intent is to inspire our communities to think deeply, take action, develop solutions and broaden knowledge. Underlying the Center’s endeavors is to strengthen and advance the Manship School’s national and state leadership in media and politics.

The Cook Political Report is a non-partisan newsletter and website that analyzes elections and campaigns for the US House of Representatives, US Senate, Governors and President as well as American political trends. Today, 34 years after publishing its first issue, The Cook Political Report has become known and respected both inside the Beltway and around the country as a preeminent source of independent political analysis that many rely on for accurate political forecasting.