Welcome to “What the Polls Say Today,” Intelligencer’s daily series breaking down all the latest polling news on the 2022 midterms.
Four days before Election Day, the overall midterms picture is looking up for Republicans. With early voting underway in most states, it seems that a Republican wave of undetermined size is approaching, putting the Senate into play and very likely delivering the House to the GOP. But in weather and in politics, forecasts are often wrong, and there are multiple unknown factors to take into account.
Here’s what the polls are telling us today:
Election-denying secretary of State hopefuls are struggling
Those fearing for the future of democracy have been especially worried about MAGA candidates aiming to take over the election machinery in 2024 battleground states. When they announced themselves as the America First Secretary of State Coalition back in May, they looked pretty formidable. Then two of them — Rachel Hamm of California and Jody Hice of Georgia — lost their primaries. The Hice defeat was particularly noteworthy because this sitting congressman’s vanquisher was incumbent Brad Raffensperger, enemy No. 1 to Trump and other election deniers because of his brazen refusal to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory in his state.
And now, as the Washington Post notes, would-be America First Secretaries of State who are on the general-election ballot seem to be struggling in the sparse available public polling, despite the pro-Republican atmosphere prevailing just before Election Day:
The good news for Democrats and others who fear what that might portend: Polls show virtually all of these GOP candidates are lagging fellow Republicans who are running on the same ticket.
That doesn’t mean they can’t win, and some of them appear to have a real chance. But if many do, it may be because they were swept up in a GOP wave that carried other extreme candidates across the finish line, too.
The most important source of data on these races is the recent New York Times/Siena survey of four battleground states. It showed the chief founder of the AFSSC, Nevada’s Jim Marchant, trailing Democrat Cisco Aguilar by three points (41-44) among likely voters, with 15 percent undecided. Aguilar also led Marchant by three points (41-38) in an even more recent poll by the Nevada Independent.
Perhaps the best known election-denying secretary of State candidate is Arizona’s Mark Finchem, identifiable by his ubiquitous cowboy hat and his efforts to shift the burden of proof on 2020 election results to those who say they weren’t rigged. The Times/Siena survey showed Finchem trailing Democrat Adrian Fontes by seven points (40-47) among likely voters. And a more recent OH Predictive Insights survey of Arizona similarly gave Fontes a six-point lead (48-42). Both polls showed top-of-ticket Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake tied or ahead.
Two late-October polls of Michigan showed Republican secretary of State nominee Kristina Karamo down by nine (Mitchell Research) and ten (WDIV/Detroit News) points against Democratic incumbent Jocelyn Benson. These polls indicated that other statewide contests were significantly closer.
And in Pennsylvania, where the governor has the power to appoint election administrators, MAGA gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano is pretty clearly losing to Democrat Josh Shapiro, who leads the fiery and underfunded extremist by 11.2 percent in the RealClearPolitics polling averages.
Voters definitely think America is on the wrong track
One polling indicator that doesn’t often get attention is “direction of the country,” where voters are asked if they think America is moving in “the right direction” or is instead “off on the wrong track.” This has tended lately to be a chronically net negative number; the last time there were sizable “right direction” margins was at the end of the 1990s economic boom and then again in the national unity moment after September 11. But the relative size of the “wrong track” margin can be a good indicator of unhappiness with the status quo.
In the RealClearPolitics averages, the right-direction/wrong-track ratio is currently 26-68. That’s better than the 18-75 ratio in July, but not as good as the 44-50 peak in April of 2021, when the Biden administration and the Democratic Congress were in their salad days. Gallup does a slightly different measurement of this basic indicator, asking respondents if they are “satisfied with the ways things are going in the United States.” In its last monthly poll, Gallup pegged “satisfaction” at 17 percent. As CNN’s Harry Enten noted, this isn’t a good sign for the party that controls the White House:
In the midterms when more Americans are dissatisfied than satisfied with the direction of the country, the party that held the White House has lost an average of 33 seats. That jumps to 46 seats in a president’s first midterm.
There’s not much chance that number will rise much before Election Day, though Democrats hope some of that dissatisfaction will be focused on the U.S. Supreme Court, MAGA extremism, and the profits of the GOP’s corporate clientele.
More on the 2022 midterms
- Are Democrats the Party of Low-Turnout Elections Now?
- New Midterms Data Reveals Good News for Democrats in 2024
- The Return of the Emerging Democratic Majority?