WASHINGTON (NBC News) — Democrats hold a 7-point advantage over Republicans in the final national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll before Tuesday’s midterm elections, with both parties showing record enthusiasm and interest in the upcoming contests.
Fifty percent of likely voters say they prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress, while 43 percent want Republicans in charge. That’s down from Democrats’ nine-point advantagein October’s NBC/WSJ poll, though the change is well within the poll’s margin of error.
(Among the wider pool of registered voters, Democrats lead Republicans by six points, 49 percent to 43 percent.)
Democrats lead with likely African-American voters (84 percent to 8 percent), Latinos (57 percent to 29 percent), voters ages 18-34 (57 percent to 34 percent), women (55 percent to 37 percent) and independents (35 percent to 23 percent).
Among white women with college degrees, the Democratic edge is 28 points, 61 percent to 33 percent.
Republicans, meanwhile, are ahead among voters ages 50-64 (52 percent to 43 percent), men (50 percent to 43 percent) and whites (50 percent to 44 percent).
Among white women without college degrees, Republicans have a 12-point advantage, 54 percent to 42 percent. And among white men without college degrees, it’s 35 points, 65 percent to 30 percent.
“It is a political kaleidoscope,” says Democratic pollster Peter Hart, whose firm conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. “You turn the poll one way, and it looks [good for Democrats].”
But you turn it another way, Hart adds, “you can see how the GOP squeaks through.”
“It has closed. It is a more competitive race,” says McInturff, the Republican pollster. “But for Republicans, it feels slightly short of where you’d want to be for a national election.”
RECORD ENTHUSIASM FOR THE MIDTERMS
Both Democratic and Republican voters are expressing a record-level of enthusiasm heading into Tuesday’s elections. Eighty-five percent of likely Democratic voters have a high level of interest in the midterms — registering either a “nine” or “10” on a 10-point scale — versus 82 percent for Republicans.
Among all registered voters, 70 percent are highly interested in the election, which is up from 61 percent in 2006 and 2010.
For additional perspective, back in October 2016 — a presidential election — 72 percent of registered voters said they were very interested in the election, according to that NBC/WSJ poll two years ago.
“There have never been midterm numbers that look like this,” says McInturff.
TRUMP’S JOB RATING REMAINS STABLE
Trump’s job rating among likely voters is 46 percent approve, 52 percent disapprove – essentially unchanged from October’s 45 percent approve, 52 percent disapprove. (Among registered voters, it’s an equal 46 percent approve, 52 percent disapprove.)
Only 37 percent of registered voters approve of Trump’s handling of the recent shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, and just 39 percent back his handling of the pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats.
NEARLY 60 PERCENT DESIRE CHANGE, DESPITE A STRONG ECONOMY
But 59 percent of registered voters say they want a “great deal” or “quite a bit” of change in direction from the way President Trump has been leading the country, versus a combined 38 percent who want no change, not that much change or just some change.