Poll suggests crucial House races are extremely competitive

By Eric Strauss
West Long Branch | Sep 10, 2018 at 1:04 pm

A national poll that included two hotly contested New Jersey congressional districts found that Democratic efforts to wrest control of the House of Representatives from the Republicans have a chance. But the sampling of eight bellwether districts around the country by the Monmouth University Poll suggests a tight overall race nationwide.

The poll was based on 3,390 interviews of potential voters in eight districts:

  • New Jersey’s 3rd, where incumbent Republican Tom MacArthur is battling with Democratic rival Andy Kim;
  • New Jersey’s 11th, where incumbent Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen is retiring, setting up a battle between Republican Assemblyman Jay Webber and Democratic former federal prosecutor Mikie Sherrill;
  • California’s 48th;
  • Pennsylvania’s 1st;
  • Pennsylvania’s 17th;
  • Ohio’s 12th;
  • Virginia’s 10th; and
  • West Virginia’s 3rd.

Monmouth found that support is almost even among potential voters, at 43 percent for Democrats and 42 percent for Republicans, with the Democrat advantage edging up to 47 percent to 43 percent among likely voters. All eight districts have been Republican strongholds in recent years.

“One thing we saw in the special elections to fill U.S. House vacancies this year is that Democratic support grew the closer we got to Election Day,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent polling institute, said in a prepared statement. “This does not necessarily mean the same will happen was we approach November, but Republicans in those prior races started out better-positioned than we see in many competitive races for the midterm.”

Key factors included where voters live, as Democrats’ support for Democratic candidates in Democratic precincts was much higher than Republicans’ support for GOP candidates in GOP precincts.

Democrats also had more interest in the races than Republicans, the polling institute said.

Demographically, GOP core voters are white men without a college degree, while Democratic candidates saw support from white female college graduates and women of color (regardless of education). White women without a college degree and white men with a degree had more mixed results, as did men of color.

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Eric Strauss | estrauss@roi-nj.com | acerimrat