The final national NBC News poll of the 2022 midterms finds a highly competitive campaign landscape ahead of Election Day, as Democrats have pulled even with Republicans in enthusiasm, but President Joe Biden remaining unpopular and voters expressing deep dissatisfaction about the state of the country.
Forty-eight percent of likely voters say they prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress as the outcome from Tuesday’s elections, while 47% prefer a Republican-controlled Congress.
That’s a reversal from October, when 48% preferred a GOP-controlled Congress, versus 47% who wanted Democrats in charge, although shift is well within the poll’s margin of error.
Among all registered voters, congressional preference is tied at 47%-47% — essentially unchanged from last month, when Democrats held a narrow 1-point edge, 47%-46%.
Yet what has changed in the poll is that Democrats have caught up to Republicans in election interest. An identical 73% of Democrats and Republicans express high interest, registering either a “9” or “10” on a 10-point scale.
In October’s NBC News poll, Republicans held a 9-point advantage in high voter interest, 78% to 69%, after Democrats had previously closed the enthusiasm gap following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion.
Still, the overall political environment remains grim for Democrats. Just 44% of voters approve of President Biden’s job, while 53% disapprove; more than 70% think the country is headed in the wrong direction; and a combined 81% say they are “very” or “somewhat” dissatisfied with the U.S. economy.
What’s more, 47% of all voters say they want a “great deal” of change in direction from the way in which Biden has been leading the country — higher than what the poll showed for the first midterms for Donald Trump (44%), Barack Obama (41%) and Bill Clinton (36%), all of which resulted in election drubbings for those past presidents.
“President Biden and the Democrats are in for a miserable election,” said Republican pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies, who conducted this survey with Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt and his team at Hart Research Associates.
“The Democrats have to run way ahead of the president to win a statewide race,” added McInturff. “I would expect to see to see a large number of losses in the House and possibly a switch in control of the Senate.”
But Horwitt counters that, despite those traditional midterm fundamentals, Democrats have made this election competitive, which could save Democrats in some contests.
“In January, if you told me that the national political dynamics would not improve but Democrats had a fighting chance to avert a typical first midterm shellacking, I’d take it,” he said.
“And here we are,” Horwitt added.
The NBC News poll was conducted Nov. 3-5 of 1,000 registered voters — 804 of whom were reached by cell phone — and it has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.
The margin of error for the poll’s 786 likely voters is plus-minus 3.5 percentage points.