WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. voters were deeply divided about Republican President Donald Trump’s job performance and the direction of the country as they cast ballots in Tuesday’s congressional midterm elections, according to the Reuters/Ipsos Election Day poll.
U.S. President Donald Trump walks on stage at a campaign rally on the eve of the U.S. mid-term elections at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, U.S., November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
After some voting locations closed on the East Coast but before every vote was counted, early poll results found that about half of those who voted believed the country was on the “wrong track,” and four in 10 said it was headed in the “right direction.”
A slightly larger number of voters disapproved of Trump’s job performance, compared with about four in 10 who approved, the poll found.
The poll, conducted online on Tuesday, was based on responses from 36,740 people who voted in 37 states. The poll is ongoing and will be updated as people continue to vote.
Millions of Americans voted in the congressional and state contests, with all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, 35 seats in the 100-member U.S. Senate and 36 of the 50 state governorships at stake.
Election forecasters said Democrats would likely pick up the 23 seats they need to gain a majority in the House, but the party had less hope of adding the two seats it needs to gain control of the Senate.
Immigration, healthcare and the economy ranked as the top issues for voters, the Reuters/Ipsos poll found.
Trump and Republicans touted the strong economy during the campaign, with the president arguing Democrats would reverse the job gains that have occurred since he took office. Trump also played up his hardline positions on immigration in the final stretch, a strategy aimed at driving his base to turn out.
Democrats made healthcare and protecting the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, the central theme of their House and Senate campaigns, warning that people could lose coverage for pre-existing health conditions and other protections if Republicans kept control of Congress.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll found robust support for changing the nation’s gun laws. Seven in 10 voters said they wanted “moderate” or “strong” regulations and restrictions for firearms, the poll found.
Emboldened by a spate of school shootings and shift in public opinion, Democrats this cycle embraced limits on firearms after decades of avoiding talking about gun control.
Calls for background checks and limits on “bump stocks” and high-capacity magazines appeared in campaign ads – even in some of the most conservative districts.
About half of midterm voters want abortion to be legal in “most” or “all” cases, the poll found. A slightly smaller number, four in 10, want abortion to be illegal, the poll found.
Abortion entered the 2018 elections debate during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Democrats argued Kavanaugh’s confirmation would ultimately lead to a woman’s right to abortion being overturned.
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Reporting by Ginger Gibson and Chris Katn; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Peter Cooney