Republican House candidates had gained an edge in the final weeks leading to the midterm election as economic worries overtook abortion rights as voters’ top concern, according to a new poll.

The New York Times/Siena College survey released Monday found that 49% of likely voters indicated they would vote for a GOP congressional candidate compared to 45% who planned on pulling the lever for a Democrat — a three-point lead when adjusted for mathematical rounding.

The poll marked a distinct shift from the outlets’ previous survey last month, which found that Democrats had a one-point advantage in the midterms as they looked to hold onto their control of the House.

The changing political winds were marked by a sharp increase in the percentage of voters who said inflation and a stunted stock market were the most important issues facing the US, and a large swing among Independent voters, who had favored Democratic candidates by a three-point margin in September but had now moved to the GOP by a margin of ten percentage points.

A crowd of Donald Trump supporters
Undecided female voters had swung to the right as economic concerns overrode worries about abortion bans, the poll found.
Getty Images

The shift was most pronounced among undecided women, who supported Democratic candidates by a 14-point margin last month but were now backing Republicans with an 18-point margin. The 44% of likely voters that said the economy was the most important issue in the elections planned to vote for GOP candidates by a two-to-one margin.

Robin Ackerman, a 37-year-old Democrat from New Castle, Delaware, said she was vehemently opposed to the conservative Supreme Court’s move to revoke a woman’s right to an abortion in June, but her concerns about women’s reproductive rights had been waylaid by the economy.

“That doesn’t really have a lot to do with my decision,” she told the New York Times about the Roe v. Wade reversal. “I’m more worried about other things.”

Snapshot of the poll
The economy and inflation were by far the biggest issues for potential voters, according to the poll.
New York Times / Siena College p

“I’m shifting more towards Republican because I feel like they’re more geared towards business.”

Gerard Lamoureux, a 51-year-old Democrat from Newtown, Connecticut, was also planning to support the other side of the aisle on Nov. 8.

“It’s all about cost,” he told the paper. “The price of gas and groceries are through the roof. And I want to eat healthy, but it’s cheaper for me to go to McDonald’s and get a little meal than it is to cook dinner.”

The party in power often loses the midterm elections, but the swift reversal of polling support for the Democrats came after waning support for President Joe Biden was buoyed over the summer by a series of legislative victories, relief from record-high gas prices, and anger over the abortion ruling.

Biden’s approval rating had dropped from more than 50% in July and August to 43%, according to polling averages compiled by FiveThirtyEight.

Perhaps even more concerning for Democrats is that 64% of people polled say the country is moving in the wrong direction, compared to 24% that think it is on the right path.

“Everybody’s hurting right now,” David Neiheisel, a 48-year-old Republican from Indianapolis said. “Inflation, interest rates, the cost of gas, the cost of food, the cost of my property taxes, my utilities — I mean, everything’s gone up astronomically, and it’s going to collapse.”

Democrats currently enjoy the slightest of edges in the evenly split Senate due to Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote. The party holds an eight-member advantage in the House.



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