Insights on the 2022 election from the Tufts Public Opinion Lab national poll

Tufts Public Opinion Lab
9 min readNov 3, 2022

In this post, we share insights on opinions and vote choices in the 2022 midterm elections from students’ analyses of the Tufts Public Opinion Lab election poll. These students designed and analyzed the results from our national poll as part of their work for the Polling the 2022 Election seminar.

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, there was speculation about how limited abortion access could impact voter turnout and enthusiasm for the midterms. In August, an unprecedented number of Kansans voted against their state’s amendment that would have removed constitutional protections for abortion. Across the country, the percent of Democratic voters who chose abortion as their most important issue increased from 2.4% in 2020 to 24.7% in 2022, indicating how abortion may be a motivating issue for Democratic voters.

Danielle Piccoli, A23, Political Science and Economics

After the Hobbs decision and the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the Democratic party has attempted to make abortion rights the primary issue for voters as they head to the polls in 2022. This figure, however, depicts the lack of resonance the issue of abortion has taken among likely voters. Economic issues are of higher value to independents and of utmost importance to Republicans, whereas Democrats are divided on what drives them to vote. This does not fare well for Democrats, as a lack of economic stability under President Biden may turn the median voter toward Republican candidates for the House and Senate.

Jack Adgate, 2023, Political Science with a Minor in History

When asked about issue importance, respondents selected differently based on their age. Here, top issue importance is categorized by the average age of the respondents who selected it as the most important issue to them. Gay rights as a top issue, garnered the youngest average age of respondents. Not surprisingly, healthcare as a the most important issue attracted an older group of respondents. Interestingly, free speech is also one the most important issues among older individuals. Issues such as gay rights, the environment, and race and discrimination all attracted a younger age group. With older populations turning out to vote at high rates, this could have implications on what topics are highlighted on the campaign trail.

Safi Chalfin-Smith, A24, Political Science & International Relations

Much of the culture-war messaging of conservative campaigns, especially this cycle, is that the political elite are out of touch with rural values and priorities. Our survey asked several questions regarding rural identity. I chose to use the question “How important is being a small town or rural resident to you?” to target people’s feelings of rural identification and how those related to the political issue that they considered “most important”. Of the issues that had noticeable gaps, less rural-inclined respondents found issues of racism, abortion, and healthcare to be most important relative to rural-inclined respondents, who showed relatively higher rates of ranking jobs and free speech as the most important issue facing the country.

Andrew Fellows

According to many recent polls, young generations are more concerned about global warming and the environment than older generations. Democrats are also typically more likely to say that dealing with climate change and the environment should be a top priority. Yet in this graph, which plots the % of respondents saying that the environment is the MOST important issue to them, for adults younger than 60, around and equal amount of Republicans and Democrats say the environment is their top issue. Democrats ages 60+ are much more likely than both Republicans ages 60+ and Democrats under 60 years old, to say that the environment is their top issue.

Zoe Kava, A22, Political Science and Community Health

This graph shows that, though Democrats are generally more supportive of legal abortion than Republicans, the polarization between the two parties on this issue grows as respondents get older. As Democrats get older, they report more support for legal abortion in either all or most circumstances than their younger counterparts. However, as Republicans get older, they report less support for legal abortion in all or most circumstances than their younger counterparts.

Dahlia Lyss, 2024, Major: Political Science

Democratic support from the cities remains as strong as it was in 2020. When sorting vote choice by community type, we see that Democratic support has remained consistent at 66% from urban Americans since 2020. Yet, at the same time, rural Americans are shifting towards the Republican party, decreasing from 44% Democratic vote in 2020 to 36% for the upcoming midterms. Democrats have also gained a slight increase in the suburban vote, 56% in 2022 compared to 51% in 2020. This is perhaps demonstrative of the widening rural-urban divide polarizing Democrats and Republicans. For 2022, it is clear that the urban voters remain consistently Democratic in their vote, rural Americans are becoming more supportive of the Republican Party, while suburban voters appear to be leaning slightly toward the Democratic Party.

Thomas Hershewe, Class of 2024, Political Science Major.

Here I show which party voters of different religious groups plan to vote for. Among Protestants (35% of our likely voter sample), 34% plan to support Democrats and 62% plan to support Republicans. Among Catholics (22% of our likely voter sample), 53% plan to support Democrats and 41% plan to support Republicans. Among nonreligious voters — the 24% of our likely voter sample that selected Atheist, Agnostic, or Nothing in Particular — 63% plan to support Democrats and 32% plan to support Republicans. The remaining options our poll’s respondents were given — Mormon, Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and Other — generated samples too small to for us to estimate how they will vote on Tuesday; however, among likely voters from all of these groups combined, 49% plan to support Democrats and 43% plan to support Republicans.

Julian Perry, Class of 2023, Political Science & Quantitative Economics

Three weeks before election day, about 8% of American adults have voted so far. This graph shows the percentage breakdown of these very early voters by region. Voters in the Midwest and West are more likely to have voted very early than those in the Northeast and South. Early voting periods start up to 50 days before election day, though many states have a 15 day early voting period, or none at all. This graph is a reflection of the availability of very early voting across the country and the propensity of voters to choose to vote very early.

Asher Smith

It’s no surprise that adults most engaged in politics are also the most likely to respond to polls. But with a more intense focus on nonresponse bias following a wave of notable misses, it is even more critical to know whether those more likely to respond to polls differ from the general electorate. This graph of the Democratic share of the two-party congressional ballot shows that for our poll, there does not appear to be a systemic bias towards either political party depending on how closely you follow the news. The most news-savvy favor Democrats by a single percentage point, those who check the news “some of the time” favor them by three points, and those who check the news “now and then” favor Republicans by two points; there is no uniform trend. It is notable, albeit speculative, that those who follow the news “hardly at all” favor Democrats by more points than any other group. One might imagine that those who don’t follow the news are also less likely to end up voting (note these results are already weighted to our likely voter model). This could lead to a Democratic bias if many of these low-interest respondents ultimately do not vote.

Scott Blatte, ‘A23, Political Science and Economics.

Inflation has been an increasingly topical subject as individuals around the country face the real-life effects of high inflation and inflation management, including price increases and higher interest rates. I was curious to see how individuals understand President Biden’s role in creating our current economic situation, and whether or not there were significant differences in perception between ages and party affiliation. As seen, while there was no significant disparity in assigned culpability for party and age among those who thought that Biden was either not responsible or only somewhat responsible for inflation rates, those who felt more strongly that he caused inflation produced more polarized results. Particularly, we can see that the average age of a Republican who believes strongly that Biden caused inflation trends higher than those who do not feel strongly. Conversely, the average age for a Democrat who believe strongly that Biden caused inflation actually trends lower than those who feel less strongly/not at all. Younger Democrats’ perception of Biden as contributing to this negative economic situation could further hamper an already waning willingness to support him for potential re-election in 2024.

Jael Strell, Senior, Political Science and Environmental Studies

A recent study from the Brookings Institution provocatively asked, “Are Hispanics Leaving the Democratic Party?” Despite popular narratives that non-white voters are shifting away from the Democratic Party, the results from the Tufts poll do not provide a clear-cut indication of a major demographic realignment in party support. According to exit polls, 69% of Hispanic voters supported the Democratic House candidate in the 2018 midterm elections, while 90% of Black voters backed the Democrat. In response to the Tufts poll’s generic Congressional ballot question, Hispanic and Black likely voters support the Democratic candidate in 2022 at almost identical rates as in 2018. This suggests that the Democratic Party will continue to rely on the same core constituencies in the 2022 midterm elections.

Matt Zachem, A22, Political Science & Economics

This figure maps out how intent to vote is impacted by employment status. The respondents were divided into 3 main party categories; democrats, republicans, independents/neither. There is no noticeable difference in party regarding likelihood to vote. However, those with full time employment or retirement status are noticeably more likely to vote, representing about 43% and 20% of those who indicated they have voted, will definitely vote, or will probably vote. The lowest proportion of likely voters are represented by respondents who have been temporarily laid off, are students, or answered “other”. This evidence clearly indicates that those with higher job security are more motivated to vote, while those with lower employment levels are less motivated to vote. The importance of this is paramount when considering how factors like financial security and confidence in the job market impact political participation.

Sara Kessel, Class of 2024, English major and Political Science Minor

With a growing number of Americans describing themselves as “born again”, I am interested in seeing if, and how, this growing demographic group differs from the rest of the population. Often defined by the group’s support for conservative or traditional social views, I used number of children to see if this support for traditional values, as the prohibition of forms of birth control and larger family size has been historically a strong tenant to social conservative communities in the U.S. I was surprised to see that the two groups did not differ that much, although there is an increase in number of children among those who identify as born again Christian. Critically, neither of these groups appear to be having enough children to ensure a stable population growth, which is quantified as a 2.1 TFR (total fertile rate). While further research is needed, this graph shows that for the U.S. to continue to grow, immigration is essential to supplant the fairly low TFR across both groups.

Seth Gordon

--

--

Tufts Public Opinion Lab

The Tufts Public Opinion Lab (TPOL) is dedicated to studying contemporary controversies in American public opinion using quantitative data analysis.