Americans worried midterms could bring divided government, gridlock

New Axios/Ipsos poll finds the biggest concern with continued Democratic control is the handling of the economy; concerns about Republicans more mixed

The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Annaleise Azevedo Lohr Director, US, Public Affairs
  • Johnny Sawyer Research Manager, US, Public Affairs
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Washington D.C., October 1, 2022 -  With less than six weeks until the 2022 midterm elections, a new Axios/Ipsos poll finds that a slim majority of Americans are worried about divided government and split control of Congress after November. Just under half are concerned about Democrats keeping control of Congress or Republicans winning control of both chambers. Regardless of the outcome, there is one clear concern among those worried the Democrats will maintain both the Senate and House of Representatives: the economy will get worse. On the other side, those worried that Republicans will win control of both chambers of Congress cite a number of possible concerns, rather than just one issue, including: a worsening economy, gridlock, and that Republicans will shift too much of the focus to divisive social issues.

Detailed Findings

1. A slim majority of Americans are worried that the midterm elections will result in divided government and gridlock.

  • Fifty-three percent of Americans are worried about divided government, where one party controls the Senate, and one controls the House of Representatives. Democrats (64%) are more worried about this outcome than Republicans (51%) and independents (44%).
  • Concerns about either party having total control of Congress are relatively even. Forty-nine percent say they are at least somewhat worried that the Democrats will maintain control of both the Senate and House of Representatives after the midterm elections, while a similar percentage (46%) are worried that the Republicans will take control of both chambers.
  • Predictable partisan divides exist as three-fourths of both Democrats and Republicans are worried the other party will have control of both chambers of Congress.
  • Women (50%), Black Americans (56%), and Hispanic Americans (54%) are more worried than their counterparts about the Republican Party winning control of the Senate and House of Representatives. In contrast, Americans aged 55+ (57%) and White Americans (54%) are more worried about the Democratic Party keeping control of both chambers.
  • Setting concerns aside, no one actually agrees on the outcome in November. Roughly a third say the Democrats will control the Senate or House, a third say the same about Republicans, and a third don’t know. Among independents, three in five don’t have a guess as to which party will control Congress after November.

2. Among those who are worried that the Democrats will keep control of the Senate and the House of Representatives, there is a single point of concern: the economy and inflation getting worse.

  • More than two in five (43%) say that they are worried the economy or inflation will get worse if Democrats maintain control of both chambers of Congress.
  • Driving this belief are Americans aged 55+ (55%), married Americans (51%) and those earning $100K+ (49%).
  • While all other issues lag far behind the economy, the second tier of issues includes the Democrats spending too much time investigating Donald Trump (18%), no checks on President Biden’s powers (18%), declining confidence in government (16%) and increased political violence (14%).

3. While those that are worried about Republicans winning both the Senate and the House are concerned about a worsening economy, several other factors have them similarly worried.

  • Nearly one in four (24%) are worried that the economy or inflation will get worse if Republicans win control of both chambers.
  • Americans aged 18-34 (29%) and those living in urban areas (33%) are more worried than their counterparts.
  • A similar percentage worry that President Biden will not be able to get anything done (23%) and that Republicans will spend too much time on divisive social issues (21%).
  • Second tier issues include increasing political violence (19%), Donald Trump’s claims of election fraud gaining more traction (18%) and declining confidence in government (17%).
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About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Axios/Ipsos poll, conducted between September 23 – 26, 2022. For this survey, a sample of 1,004 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample includes 356 Republicans, 449 Democrats, and 126 independents.

The sample was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel, partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2019 American Community Survey data, except for 2020 vote history, which comes from the Federal Election Commission. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, education, and past vote.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,004, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-5.3 percentage points).

The poll also has a credibility interval of plus or minus 6.4 percentage points for Republicans, plus or minus 5.7 percentage points for Democrats and plus or minus 10.7 percentage points for independents.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Jackson
Senior Vice President, US
Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2025
chris.ja[email protected]

Mallory Newall
Vice President, US
Public Affairs
[email protected]

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The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Annaleise Azevedo Lohr Director, US, Public Affairs
  • Johnny Sawyer Research Manager, US, Public Affairs

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