Most say voting is vital despite our bleak future prospects, AP-NORC poll shows


WASHINGTON (AP) — From his home in Collegeville, Pa., Graeme Dean says there are a lot of things that are disheartening about the state of the country and politics these days. At the center of one of the most competitive U.S. Senate races this year, he’s been the victim of a constant barrage of vitriolic ads that make it easy for him to focus on what’s wrong.

But the 40-year-old English teacher has no intention of disengaging from the democratic process. In fact, he believes the first national election since the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol is “bigger” than in years past.

“It could very well tilt the country one way or the other,” said the Democratic-leaning independent.

Dean isn’t the only one feeling the brunt of this election. A new Associated Press-NORC Center of Public Affairs Research poll finds that 71% of registered voters believe the very future of the United States hangs in the balance when they vote this year. That’s true for voters who prefer Republicans to win a majority in Congress, and those who want Democrats in control, though probably for different reasons.

While around two-thirds of voters say they are pessimistic about politics, overwhelming majorities from all parties – around 8 in 10 – say voting this year is extremely or very important.

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The results show how this year’s midterm elections are unfolding in a unique environment, with voters both exhausted by the political process and determined to participate in shaping it. This could lead to high turnout in the midterm elections.

In the politically divided state of Michigan, for example, more than 150,000 voters have already voted by mail. A total of 1.6 million people have applied for mail-in ballots so far, surpassing the 1.16 million who chose the option in the 2018 midterm elections.

In follow-up interviews, survey respondents raised concerns about the country’s direction despite the agreement that things aren’t working out.

Rick Moore, a 67-year-old Las Vegas writer and musician, said he was unhappy with President Joe Biden, and “not just because I’m a Republican.” Moore called him “more of a puppet” than any other president in his lifetime.

“It’s important to me that the Republicans control as much as possible because we’re not going to get rid of the Democratic president anytime soon,” Moore said.

In general, Moore said, he doesn’t like the way Democratic politicians run their states, including Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, adding that Democrats “use the word democracy so that we all do whatever they want. “.

“I would just like to see my voice represented more,” he said.

Since the last midterm elections, voters have become more negative about the country and people’s rights: 70% say they are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States, up from 58% in October 2018.

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Republicans have become extremely unhappy with a Democrat in the White House. While Democrats have become less negative since Donald Trump left office, they remain largely embittered about how things are going.

Fifty-eight percent of voters also say they are dissatisfied with the state of individual rights and freedoms in the United States, up from 42 percent in 2018. About two-thirds of Republicans are now dissatisfied, after about half said that they were satisfied when Trump was in office. Among Democrats, opinions remained largely the same, with about half dissatisfied.

Shawn Hartlage, 41, doesn’t think her views as a Christian are well represented, lamenting that she would like to vote ‘for someone who really stood up for what you believe’ but he is very important to her to vote anyway.

The Republican stay-at-home mother of two in Washington Township, Ohio, said the country’s leadership was “devastating,” noting both inflation and a decline in moral values.

“I fear for my children’s future,” Hartlage said. “You always want to leave them better things than you had, but it’s definitely not going in that direction.”

Teanne Townsend of Redford, Michigan, agrees things are rolling back. But the 28-year-old called abortion, health care and police brutality particularly concerning areas where rights are under threat.

“We have minimal progress in the right direction for a lot of areas, especially for minority people (groups). Their rights are not the same as those of other races and cultures,” said the Democrat, who is African American.

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A child health and mental health expert, Townsend said she will vote for her constitutional right to abortion this year. If passed, the state’s ballot initiative would guarantee the right to abortion in the Michigan Constitution.

“I feel like there’s a lot at stake,” Townsend said, adding that she was both “optimistic and nervous” about the outcome, but it was “the right thing” for people to be able to. vote on it.

The poll showed a majority of voters say the outcome of the midterm elections will have a significant impact on abortion policy, with Democratic voters more likely than Republican voters to say so. Most voters of all parties say the result will have a big impact on the economy.

More voters say they trust the Republican Party to manage the economy (39% vs. 29%), as well as crime (38% vs. 23%). Republicans also have a slight edge on immigration (38% vs. 33%). The Democratic Party is seen as better able to handle abortion policy (45% vs. 22%), health care (42% vs. 25%) and passing laws (39% vs. 29%).

Despite the uncertainty of the outcome, Dean in Pennsylvania has faith in the American system to work for the will of the people.

“I think it’s important that our reps represent what the majority of people want,” Dean said. “That’s what we claim to be doing in this country and it looks like that’s what should happen. And I’m hopeful. »

The poll of 961 registered voters was conducted Oct. 6-10 using a sample drawn from NORC’s AmeriSpeak Probability Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.


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