Fox News Poll: Health care boosts Democrats in upcoming midterm elections

There is a deluge of bad news for Republicans in the latest Fox News poll.

Most voters are unhappy with the direction the country is taking.  Majorities disagree with President Trump on the border wall, and extra tax-cut cash is nowhere to be seen.  And, by a wide margin, Democrats are considered the party that would better handle health care -- at a time when most prioritize health care in deciding their vote for Congress.

With only 44 days until Election Day, maybe the thing that passes for good news for the GOP is that Democrats lead by only seven points in the generic congressional ballot among likely voters.  That suggests the battle for control of the House of Representatives could still go either way.

READ THE COMPLETE POLL RESULTS.

The poll, released Sunday, shows how much Americans have warmed to Obamacare.  Four years ago, 48 percent thought the law “went too far” (September 2014).  That’s down to 36 percent today.  And a majority believes Obamacare is “about right” (21 percent) or “didn’t go far enough” (30 percent).

Plus, 64 percent want more people insured, even if it costs the government more money.

Republican campaigning on the new tax law will have limited appeal, as 6 voters in 10 aren’t seeing additional money in their paycheck since Trump signed the law, and only 32 percent think the law has helped the economy.

Voters also disagree with the president on building a U.S.-Mexico border wall (more oppose by 12 points) and increasing tariffs (more say they will hurt than help the economy by 6 points).

Currently, 55 percent of voters are unhappy with how things are going in the country.  That’s a bit of a backslide from 53 percent who felt that way at Trump’s 100-day mark (April 2017).

And while a record number are “enthusiastic” about how the government is working -- that record is a whopping 7 percent.  Another 25 percent are “satisfied.”  A majority of 62 percent is “dissatisfied” (37 percent) or “angry” (25 percent) with Washington.

Overall, when asked who they would back if the Congressional election were today, 49 percent of likely voters say the Democratic candidate in their district and 42 percent the Republican.  Among the larger group of registered voters, the Democrat is up by 46-40 percent.

“Usually we see Republicans do better when we go from registered voters to likely voters,” says Democratic pollster Chris Anderson, who conducts the poll with Republican Daron Shaw.  “That isn’t the case right now, Democrats actually have a larger advantage when we look just at likely voters.”

The gender gap remains, as women are more inclined to back the Democratic candidate by a 17-point margin, while men pick the Republican candidate by 4 points.

Rural whites back the Republican by 22 points, while suburban women back the Democrat by 23.  Voters “angry” about how the government is working are four times more likely to support the Democratic candidate.

Voters who backed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election are more likely than Trump voters to be more enthusiastic about voting this year compared to past midterms (by 9 points) and more likely to be extremely interested in the election (by 11 points).

Yet that doesn’t tell the whole story.  When looking only at counties where the 2016 presidential vote was close (Clinton and Trump within 10 points), Democrats have a 17-point lead in the ballot test.  That’s almost as strong as in Clinton counties, where they are up by 19 points.

Republicans are seen as better on border security (+11 points) and the economy (+4), and hold the slightest edge on taxes (+1) and international trade (+1).

Voters believe Democrats can better handle the issues of health care (+15 points), bringing the country together (+12), immigration (+5), and corruption (+5).

Health care stands out, as it is the only issue that has a majority, 55 percent, saying it will be extremely important to them to vote for a congressional candidate who shares their views.  That’s followed by taxes (47 percent “extremely important”), immigration (46 percent), President Trump (46 percent), the border wall (39 percent), Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination (38 percent), and the Russia investigation (34 percent).

Campaign appearances from the president may not help Republicans, as 26 percent say they would be more likely to support a candidate if Trump campaigns for them, but 43 percent would be less likely to do so.  That’s a spread of negative 17 points. Vice President Mike Pence does just a bit better than his boss, at negative 13.

For former presidential candidate Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the effect is neutral: 31 percent would be more likely to vote for a candidate he backs and 31 percent less likely.

Former President Barack Obama receives a positive response (+11 points):  42 percent more likely vs. 31 percent less likely.

More broadly, 44 percent of voters approve of Trump’s performance, while 52 percent disapprove.  Last month it was 45-53 percent, and in July it was 46-51 percent.

By 50-42 percent, voters approve of Trump’s handling of the economy.  Majorities disapprove on immigration (41-54 percent) and health care (38-52 percent).

The poll finds only 35 percent of voters think Trump “cares about people” like them, and the same number, 35 percent, sees the disruption he’s brought to Washington as a good thing.

Russia Investigation

Voters approve of the job Special Counsel Robert Mueller is doing (55-39 percent) and want him to take his time and do it right (52 percent).  Thirty-six percent say “wrap it up already.”

Opposition to impeaching the president has narrowed.  Voters oppose rather than support impeachment by a 5-point margin (42 percent yes vs. 47 percent no).  In June, opposition outweighed support by 12 points.

Among voters backing Democratic congressional candidates, 72 percent say President Trump should be impeached and removed from office.  For voters supporting the GOP candidate, an even larger 84 percent oppose impeachment.

Pollpourri

Fifty-six percent feel like things in the country are rigged to favor the wealthy.  That’s far more than the 39 percent who think they have a fair shot at getting ahead if they work hard.  Trump voters think hard workers can get ahead, while Clinton voters say the system is rigged.

How deep is the political divide?  Just 18 percent of Republicans say Democrats love America, and only 11 percent of Democrats think Republicans do.

On Wednesday, Trump visited areas affected by Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas.  Days earlier he denied reports about the death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria (2017).  By a four-point margin, voters give the administration a net positive rating for its response to Florence.  The ratings it received last year for Puerto Rico were more negative than positive by 32 points.

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,003 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from September 16-19, 2018. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.  For the subgroup of 818 likely voters, the margin of sampling error is also plus or minus three points.