Recent polls may overstate voter concerns about Senate control
Voters sampled in recent surveys say who will control of Congress influences their votes, but other polls suggest most don't know which party controls the U.S. Senate.Posted — Updated
A surprisingly high percentage, 62 percent of respondents, said that control of the Senate was a factor for them.
These questions are unbiased, and they are reasonable to ask, so that’s not my concern. In fact, I collaborated with Pearce Godwin, director of the American Insights poll on some of their survey questions.
Rather, I believe these polling results about party control of Congress overstate how it could affect voting decisions. I say this because other surveys also show that Americans don’t know a lot about government. If most people don't know which party has the majority in the U.S. Senate now, how can they be voting to influence which party controls the chamber?
It's not possible that majorities can vote to ensure Democrats retain control or Republicans gain control of the Senate if majorities don’t know which party controls the Senate. To be sure, registered voters are more literate about government than a random sample of all U.S. adults. Also, North Carolinians may be better versed in this fact since this is one of the most expensive elections in the nation. Perhaps political ads are making control of the Senate a salient fact. Regardless, it is more plausible that Senate control matters to the votes of a small minority, who otherwise would be voting for another candidate.
The lesson I’d like to leave isn’t that Americans are ignorant about government. Nor is the point to say surveys results can’t be trusted, though maybe there are many reasons to be more critical of how their finding are reported.
Instead, the simple lesson is that most of the time people are answering questions on the fly rather than revealing deeply held convictions. Wouldn't you prefer to say there are good reasons for voting the way you do?
Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.