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Trump Weighing Down Republicans in the Key House Battlegrounds, Cook Political Report – LSU Manship School Poll Finds

October 26, 2018

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Oct. 26, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Baton Rouge, LA – A new, exhaustive national midterm election poll shows that nearly half of voters in battleground Congressional districts (42 percent) plan to use their ballot to show opposition to the President, while only 23 percent plan to use their vote to show support for the President.

In battleground Congressional House races, Democrats hold a 12-point lead over Republicans (48 percent to 36 percent among registered voters in the 72 most competitive districts, as rated by the Cook Political Report).

Further, while most Republicans (78 percent) say he deserves to be reelected in 2020, a sizeable share of Republicans (41 percent) said they would nevertheless like to see the President face a serious primary challenge.

“These results are showing us that President Trump is weighing down Republican prospects in the House. The remaining question is whether this mood and Democratic lead will translate into a pattern of turnout that shapes the outcomes in individual contests,” Michael Henderson, Ph.D., lead researcher on the poll and director of LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab said. The poll was conducted as a collaboration between the The Cook Political Report and LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication. [Dr. Michael Henderson and Dr. Martin Johnson are available for fiber/satellite interviews, phone interviews and Skype interviews. See additional video/sound bytes below.]

Among other findings:

HEALTHCARE AND THE ECONOMY ARE TWO MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES The economy and health care top the list of issues voters consider very important at 70 percent and 68 percent, respectively. In contrast, recent hot-button issues such as trade, immigration and guns rank relatively low in voters’ minds at 36 percent, 45 percent and 48 percent. 3 The parties diverge somewhat over which issue tops the list. Among Republicans, the economy is the top concern with 79 percent saying it is very important. Among Democrats, health care tops at 80 percent saying it is very important. AMERICANS CONFIDENT IN ELECTION INTEGRITY, BUT DIFFERS BY MEDIA USE AND PARTY Americans are also confident about the integrity of elections overall, with 77 percent reporting that they are at least somewhat confident that their votes will be counted accurately. This is especially true among those who prefer to get their news from a print newspaper, 54 percent of whom say they are very confident their votes will be counted accurately. The share is 20 to 25 points lower among those who chiefly rely on websites, smartphone apps or social networking sites for their news. Democrats are more likely to say foreign interference poses a greater threat to the integrity of our elections (64 percent say it is likely or very likely) than voter fraud (38 percent say it happens somewhat often or very often); whereas Republicans were more likely to say voter fraud poses a bigger threat (52 percent say it happens somewhat often or very often) than foreign interference (24 percent say it is likely or very likely).

A THIRD OF AMERICANS FEEL HOPEFUL ABOUT TRUMP’s PRESIDENCY, HALF FEEL FRUSTRATED Results from the poll underscore the similarities between now and the 2010 election season, but in reverse. Today, 49 percent of Americans feel frustrated about Donald Trump’s presidency – the same share that said they felt frustrated about Barack Obama’s presidency during the first round of midterm elections in his administration (while 29 percent of Americans report that they feel hopeful). However, the partisanship of voters expressing frustration has flipped. Eight years ago, these were overwhelmingly Republicans. Today they are overwhelmingly Democrats. A similar pattern is apparent among those feeling “angry,” “proud” or “hopeful” about the presidency.

“This survey confirms the belief that many of us had that Republicans face a distinctly uphill challenge in holding onto their House majority. So many of the most competitive district contests are being fought in suburbs, where President Trump is a real liability. This is not the case in the Senate, which is being fought on a completely different battlefield, mostly in more conservative, red Republican states and where Republicans are far more likely to gain ground,” Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report said.

See the full survey results here.

VIDEO SOUND BYTES FOR DOWNLOAD Dr. Michael Henderson, lead researcher on the poll and director of LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab

Video sound byte 1 - Download here “So nationally, one of the interesting things coming out of this poll is that the 2018 midterms sort of look like the 2010 midterms in reverse. There’s a fair amount of individuals who are disgruntled with either the President or Congress that are hopeful or angry; but whereas it was Democrats who eight years ago who were hopeful and proud, and now they’re frustrated and angry. Eight years ago Republicans were frustrated and angry, and now they’re hopeful and proud about the current state of politics in the country.” Video sound byte 2 - Download here “Nationally - and we also see this in competitive districts as well - there are two issues that really stand apart at the top of voters’ minds, and those are the economy and healthcare. And what’s interesting is a little bit different by party. Democrats are more concerned about healthcare; Republicans are more concerned about the economy. But those are both pretty big issues across the board. What’s also interesting is issues that rank relatively low in importance, and its things you might not guess. We’ve heard a lot in the past year or so about guns, about trade, about immigration, but those issues rank relatively low compared to things like healthcare and the economy in voters’ minds.” Video sound byte 3 - Download here “So what’s really interesting is the Democrats seem to have a lead in terms of how much interest they have in following news about the campaign. And throughout the past year, Democrats have shown more political activity in terms of volunteering for campaigns and donating and contacting elected officials. So it looks on those dimensions like Democrats have an advantage on enthusiasm. But when we look at, you know, whether or not they’ll actually vote, there we don’t see as much of a difference. Republicans and Democrats are pretty close in their expressions of their likelihood to vote. So will Democratic advantage in enthusiasm translate to higher turnout than Republicans? That’s really the big question we’re waiting till the 6th to see.” Download early voting video here. Download establishing shot of Dr. Michael Henderson here.

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The survey was funded by philanthropic supporters of the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication. The survey instrument was developed by the Public Policy Research Lab at LSU in collaboration with the Cook Political Report.

LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication ranks among the strongest collegiate communication programs in the country, with its robust emphasis on media and public affairs. Its public relations students were recently ranked the #1 team in the nation, and its digital advertising and student media teams frequently earn national recognition. The Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs is the primary vehicle for the Manship School’s outreach and external engagement activities. The Center is partnership-driven, action-oriented, and dedicated to exploring contemporary issues at the intersection of mass communication and public life. Its interdisciplinary approach draws together experts from diverse fields to advance research and dialogue. The intent is to inspire our communities to think deeply, take action, develop solutions and broaden knowledge. Underlying the Center’s endeavors is to strengthen and advance the Manship School’s national and state leadership in media and politics.

The Cook Political Report is a non-partisan newsletter and website that analyzes elections and campaigns for the US House of Representatives, US Senate, Governors and President as well as American political trends. Today, 34 years after publishing its first issue, The Cook Political Report has become known and respected both inside the Beltway and around the country as a preeminent source of independent political analysis that many rely on for accurate political forecasting

Stephanie Ryan Malin LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication 9319802588 smalin@lsu.edu

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