PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans are much more likely to believe the Republicans rather than the Democrats will win control of the U.S. House of Representatives in this fall's midterm elections. More than 8 in 10 Republicans believe their party will win, while 62% of Democrats think their party will win. Independents by almost 2 to 1 (50% to 28%) think Republicans will win.
These results are based on a Gallup poll conducted Sept. 23-26. While Americans' party preferences do influence their predictions to a large degree, the gap in the Republicans' favor in terms of who Americans think will win the elections is much larger than the gap in voter preferences for Congress. In recent weeks, Gallup has found the 2010 vote to be tied or showing a slight Republican advantage among all registered voters.
Americans have been quite successful in forecasting election outcomes, correctly predicting the winner of each of the four prior midterm elections when Gallup asked the same question in 1946, 1958, 1962, and 2006. The public also correctly predicted Barack Obama would win the 2008 presidential election.
Though Americans may expect a Republican victory in the fall, they do not necessarily believe the country will benefit. The poll finds the largest number, 36%, saying the country will be better off if Republicans control Congress, but 24% believe the country will be worse off and 32% say it will not make any difference.
These results are not necessarily problematic to the Republicans' hopes of winning, as they are nearly identical to what Gallup measured when asking about a possible shift to Democratic control of Congress prior to the 2006 midterm elections.
In 2006, as now, about one in three Americans believed a change in party control would not make a difference, perhaps indicating some general cynicism about government in general. In the current data, even one in five Republicans say it will not make a difference if Republicans win back control of Congress.
More generally, opinions on whether the country would benefit from Republican control are predictably partisan, with Republicans thinking the country would be better off if the GOP gained control, and Democrats believing the U.S. would be worse off. Independents are inclined to say it will not make any difference, though slightly more view it as a positive than a negative development.
Americans generally believe the Republicans will wrest party control of Congress back from the Democrats in this fall's elections, and the public has been accurate each time Gallup has asked it to predict the winner of an election. This track record may demonstrate a degree of sophistication on Americans' part, in terms of their ability to read and process the signs in the political environment that point to a particular election outcome. It could also be the result of a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby Americans expect a party to win, and act in such a way (by voting for the party they think will win, or not voting if they think their favored party will lose) that helps make their expectation a reality.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Sept. 23-26, 2010, with a random sample of 1,036 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., selected using random-digit-dial sampling.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone-only). Each sample includes a minimum quota of 150 cell phone-only respondents and 850 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, education, region, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2009 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in continental U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.