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GOP opens edge on economy, crime ahead of midterms: POLL

(WASHINGTON) — Americans trust that Republicans would do a better job on a key set of issues, with across-the-board, double-digit edges on inflation, the economy, gas prices and crime, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll.

Inflation sees one of the larger gulfs — with 36% of Americans trusting the GOP and 21% trusting Democrats. Similar gaps exist around gas prices, with 36% of Americans trusting Republicans and 22% trusting Democrats, the poll shows.

Broadly considering the state of the economy, 36% of Americans trust Republicans to do a better job while 24% trust Democrats — a potentially grim tell for the left, who currently cling to razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate.

Regarding crime, a key closing issue for the GOP in the campaign cycle, Republicans also enjoy a solid advantage — with 35% of respondents trusting them over the 22% who put faith in the Democrats.

The public is much more evenly split on immigration, with Republicans trusted to do a better job by 35% of Americans compared to 32% who prefer the Democrats, the new poll shows. Americans are also relatively split on taxes, with 30% saying Republicans would do a better job versus 28% for the Democrats.

These leads for Republicans have numerically solidified somewhat since August, per the ABC News/Ipsos poll conducted using Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel, after both parties flooded the market with a barrage of ads, with the right painting President Joe Biden and his party as soft on crime, weak on immigration and squarely responsible for higher prices at the pump and at the grocery store.

Just last week at the White House, Biden acknowledged the price crunch, as he announced the release of 15 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Oil Reserve in hopes to drive down the cost of gas.

“Families are hurting. You’ve heard me say it before, but I get it. I come from a family, if the price of gasoline went up at the gas station, we felt it. Gas prices hit almost every family in this country, and they squeezed their family budgets. When the price of gas goes up, other expenses get cut,” said Biden.

Democrats aren’t entirely underwater, however — seeing leads in voter trust concerning COVID-19, climate change, gun violence and abortion. Access to abortion services has been front-and-center of the Democratic messaging since the fall of Roe v. Wade, as the White House and other party leaders hope to build a blue wall to combat an anticipated “red wave” of Republican wins.

But recent polls including from Pew Research Center, suggest that the key issues their party champions are less likely to be prioritized as voting has begun in midterm races across the country. An overwhelming majority — 79% — told Pew that the economy is “very important” and 61% said violent crime is also “very important.”

One bright spot for Democrats on a different question in the ABC News/Ipsos poll is that 58% of independent voters say that if a candidate says they believe that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump, they are less likely to vote for that candidate. Out of 522 Republican nominees for federal and statewide office around the country, 199 question the legitimacy of the last election, according to research compiled by FiveThirtyEight and ABC News.

Regardless of where they fall on the issues, voters seem hungry for new leadership at the top.

As substantial of a grip that Trump has on his own party, 44% of Republicans say that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis should have “a great deal” of influence on the future of the GOP, according to the ABC News/Ipsos poll. That’s more than Trump, with 34% of Republicans saying they want the former president to have “a great deal” of influence, the poll shows. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, and former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley are among other party leaders some Republicans want to be the voice of their party.

Democrats are shying away from their leader as well, and by even more eye-popping margins. A large plurality (42%) of Democrats would like President Barack Obama to have “a great deal” of influence on the future direction of their party outpacing the sitting president, with only 27% of Democrats wanting Biden to have “a great deal” of influence, the ABC News/Ipsos poll shows.

The sentiment of wanting someone other than Biden is not necessarily a new one, yet the support of Obama aligns with a week of the most substantial midterm campaigning the former president has done this cycle, planning to travel to Michigan, Georgia and Wisconsin at the end of October.

Last week, Obama argued on the “Pod Save America” podcast that Democrats can deliver a winning message to voters: “Across the board what we’ve seen is, when Democrats have even a really slim majority in Congress they can make people’s lives better. If you combine the deep concerns about our democracy with the concrete accomplishments that this administration has been able to deliver – because we had a narrow majority in both the House and the Senate – that should be enough to inspire people to get out.”

That said, in the same interview, Obama also chided his fellow Democrats for being a “buzzkill” on many issues.

And while this election has been framed partly as a referendum on Biden or Trump, a plurality of voters, 48%, say their votes are not really about either.

This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted using Ipsos Public Affairs’ KnowledgePanel® October 21-22, 2022, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 686 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 4.0 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 28-24-41 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents. See the poll’s topline results and details on the methodology here.

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