Polling Results

US: Top issues for Americans leading into the midterms

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The economy was top concern for Americans leading into the midterms

Our latest poll reveals top issues for Americans leading into the midterms.

Top of mind was the economy – half (52%) of Americans felt that inflation and the economy were the most important issues facing the country in our October survey of 2,000 nationally representative adults.

  • Inflation/economy was the top issue for Republicans (69%), Democrats (41%), and Independents (56%) alike.
  • The only outlier was Gen Z Democrats, who were more concerned about abortion/women’s rights (39%) than the economy and inflation (30%).
  • In addition to the economy, Putin’s saber-rattling has caused Americans alarm. Three quarters (76%) of Americans were extremely/somewhat concerned about the threat of nuclear war – only 6% were not concerned at all.

Number two issue for women is abortion and women’s rights, for men it’s crime

  • After the economy, the top issues for women were abortion/women’s rights (31%) and crime (30%). Meanwhile, for men, crime (25%) and immigration (23%) followed the economy as their top issues.
  • Women were more likely than men to be concerned about abortion and women’s rights (31% vs. 21%),  crime (30% vs 25%), and gun policy (24% and 18%).

However, womens’ top concerns leading up to the midterm elections varied by generation as well as race and ethnicity.

  • Gen Z women’s top concerns were abortion/women’s rights (35%), racism (30%), and crime (28%), followed by inflation and the economy (27%).
  • In comparison, top issues for women among the Baby Boomer Generation were inflation and the economy (64%), immigration (35%), and then abortion/women’s rights (30%).
  • Black or African American women’s top concerns were racism (39%), gun policy (35%), and crime (34%), followed by inflation and the economy (33%).
  • 38% of Hispanic or Latinx females were concerned about abortion and women’s rights, expressing the most concern in comparison to women in other racial/ethnic sub-groups.

Americans are feeling the effects of inflation

62% described their financial situation as either “coping” or “struggling.” Only three in ten (27%) said their financial situation was comfortable.

  • Gen X (those ages 42-57) is struggling the most, with two in five (42%) struggling and only a quarter (23%) feeling comfortable when it comes to their finances.
  • More Republicans reported struggling with their finances (31%) than Democrats (25%).
  • Women reported struggling financially more than men (34% vs. 26% of men). Younger women felt more financially secure, while single mothers and Gen X women felt the least financially secure.

In the past 6 months, only 16% of Americans’ financial situations have improved. Rather, two in five (41%) Americans financial situations have worsened. 

  • 50% of Republicans and 42% of Independents’ financial situations have worsened, compared to 33% of Democrats.
  • Older Americans are bearing the brunt of the poor economic conditions: half of Gen Xers (42-57) and Boomers (58-76) indicate that their financial situations have worsened over the past 6 months (50% and 51%, respectively)

3 in 5 Americans lack confidence in the next congress to make progress on important issues

Only two in five (21%) Americans feel that the federal government is making progress on important issues, such as the economy. This figure drops to 9% among Republicans and 16% among Independents.

  • Two in four (37%) Democrats feel the federal government is progressing on key issues, a third (34%) feel it is stagnant and nearly one in five (17%) feel it is regressing.
  • Half (55%) of Republicans and two in five (38%) Independents feel the federal government is regressing.
  • Among Republicans and Independents who voted for Biden in 2020, two in five (41%) feel that the federal government isn’t making progress on important issue and a third (33%) feel that it is regressing.

And leading into the midterms, more Americans were apprehensive about the outcome than optimistic (45% vs. 38%).

  • Republicans were more likely to feel good about the results to come in November; half (46%) of Republicans were optimistic, while only two in five (39%) Democrats express similar optimism. Men were more optimistic than women, with 41% reporting they were somewhat/very optimistic compared to only a third (34%) of women.
  • Moreover, three in five (56%) Americans lack confidence in the next congress to make progress on the issues that are most important to them. Women were more pessimistic than men, with those lacking confidence in the next congress rising to 60% among women vs. 51% among men.

Opinium conducted an online survey among 2,000 nationally representative US adults from October 11th to October 14th, 2022. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria. The data tables for this study can be found here and here with additional female cross-breaks by generation, race, and ethnicity.