President Trump, health care drive midterm elections

Less than three weeks until Election Day, voters are thinking most about health care, the economy, and reining in President Trump -- and Democratic candidates are benefitting.

Currently, 49 percent of likely voters back the Democratic candidate in their House district and 42 percent the Republican, according to a new Fox News national survey.  That 7-point lead is unchanged from last month, and just outside the poll’s margin of error.  Nine percent will vote for someone else or are undecided.

"If the election were today, the House would most likely flip," says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the poll with Democrat Chris Anderson.  "Republicans keep waiting for the national numbers to tighten, but they have been remarkably stable this campaign season."

CLICK HERE TO READ THE POLL RESULTS

Here's how we get there:

-- Top issue: Health care.  While majorities of likely voters say the economy (54 percent) and President Trump (51 percent) will be "extremely" important to their House vote, more voters feel that way about health care (58 percent) -- and that group prefers the Democratic candidate by a 24-point margin.  Meanwhile, a majority disapproves of how Trump is handling health care.

-- Guardrails for Trump.  By a 53-41 percent margin, likely voters say having the next Congress be a check on the president is more important than helping Trump enact his policies.  In counties where the 2016 vote was close (Hillary Clinton and Trump within 10 points), a majority of 56 percent want a check on Trump, and Democrats lead the generic ballot in these counties by 12 points.

-- Trump job performance.  The president’s job rating is underwater by 4 points (47-51 percent).  Trump gets net negative ratings on health care (-16 points), immigration (-14 points), Supreme Court nominees (-8), and border security and trade (both -7).  At a negative 22, race relations is his worst issue.  He receives positive marks for handling hurricanes (+2) and the economy (+6).

-- The economy and family finances.  Fewer voters are confident in their personal financial future compared to 2015.  At that time, 73 percent felt certain.  Today, that’s 68 percent.  The ratings are highly partisan, as twice as many Republicans (41 percent) as Democrats (19 percent) feel “very” confident in their financial future.  Likewise, 73 percent of Republicans rate the economy positively, while 33 percent of Democrats agree.  Overall, views are mixed:  49 percent feel the economy is in excellent or good shape vs. 48 percent saying only fair or poor.

-- Popularity contest.  More voters have a favorable view than an unfavorable view of the Democratic Party by 3 points, while the Republican Party rating is a net negative by 7 and President Trump is under water by 9.  The Me Too Movement rating is +16.

-- Women.  There’s a wide gender gap, as women likely voters support the Democratic candidate by 18 points, while men back the Republican by 6.  Since 2016, white women have shifted from backing Trump by 9 points to backing the Democrat by 2 points today.  Democrats are up by 56 points among non-white women, by 35 points with women under age 45, and by 19 points among suburban women.

-- GOP positions out of favor.  The only issue that draws clear support for the GOP candidate is border security, as those naming it as extremely important to their vote back the Republican by 23 points.  Seventy percent of likely voters favor a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants currently working in the U.S.  More like Obamacare (54 percent favorable) than the tax cut law (45 percent favorable) -- plus health care (58 percent) is extremely important to more voters than taxes (44 percent) when it comes to their congressional vote.

-- Kavanaugh.  Likely voters split over Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court:  47 approve vs. 48 disapprove.  And the 46 percent saying Supreme Court nominations are extremely important to their vote are more likely to favor the Democrat by 7 points.

-- Enthusiasm.  Voters who backed Clinton two years ago are more likely than Trump 2016 voters to say this election outcome is “extremely” important (by 14 points), more likely to be “extremely” interested (by 11 points), and also more likely than Trump voters to be motivated by enthusiasm for their candidate rather than by fear the other candidate might win (by 7 points).

-- Motivation.  When asked to name what one issue will motivate them to vote this year (without the aid of a list), the top three mentioned by likely voters are health care (13 percent), reining in Trump (10), and the economy (9).  Next, it is Democrats getting control of Congress (8 percent), immigration reform (7), and border security (5).

-- White voters.  Whites are more likely to back the GOP candidate by 8 points.  In 2014, they voted for the Republicans by 22 points.

-- Certainty.  Groups with the largest number saying they are certain to vote include very conservatives (89 percent), voters ages 45+ (87), voters with a college degree (86), and suburban women (84).  Those with the lowest share certain to vote include Trump approvers (79 percent), voters without a college degree (77), and men under 45 (68).

Pollpourri

-- Majorities of likely voters are “extremely” concerned about the affordability of health care (65 percent), denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions (62), and people losing health insurance (61).  Fewer say the same about a government takeover of health care (40).

"It's clear that every day the news is dominated by another political outrage or controversy is a missed opportunity for Democrats," says Anderson.  "Voters are broadly in agreement with Democrats on health care and the more focus on the issue the better for them."

-- Two-thirds feel political correctness in this country has gone too far, including 82 percent of Republicans, 62 percent of independents, and 48 percent of Democrats.

-- Overall, 51 percent feel extremely or very concerned political disagreements these days will lead to violence -- and on that, roughly equal numbers of Democrats (52 percent) and Republicans (50 percent) agree.

-- While ratings of Congress remain low, 23 percent approve, that’s up from 15 percent in January.

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,007 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from October 13-16, 2018. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.  For the subgroup of 841 likely voters, the margin of sampling error is also plus or minus three points.