Democrat Doug Jones made history Tuesday by trouncing his Republican opponent for one of the United States Senate seats from deep-red Alabama — but a new poll suggests that his win reflects a growing preference among Americans to send more Democrats to Washington, D.C.
According to the poll, which was conducted just after the Alabama special election, 50% of registered voters responded that they would prefer a Democrat-controlled Congress, as compared to 39% who prefer a Republican-controlled one. The last time the Democrats won in the poll by a double-digit margin and hit 50% was September 2008, just before Democrats maintained their congressional majorities and picked up additional seats in the 2008 election.
The new poll reflects Democrats’ improved popularity with voters, even compared to a few months ago, as Democrats held a seven-point lead (48% to 41%) in October.
A Democratic-controlled Congress was even more popular among certain demographics: Voters aged 18-34 preferred Democrats to Republicans by 69% to 21% — a whopping 48-point lead. Female voters also preferred Democrats by 54% to 34%, along with 43% of independent voters. Only 31% of independent respondents said they would prefer a Republican-controlled Congress.
Democrats even held majorities in some less likely groups: Men, who preferred Democrats by a 2% margin (46% to 44%), and senior citizens, who chose Democrats by a four-point margin of 46% to 42%.
Republicans, meanwhile, maintained majorities among white voters, who preferred a Republican-controlled Congress by 46% to 44%, and white voters without a college degree (50% to 38%).
The new poll could be bad news as Republicans gear up for the 2018 midterm elections, where Democrats stand to win back majorities in both chambers of Congress. According to the Wall Street Journal, responses to the poll traditionally have only translated into electoral gains for a party when there’s a double-digit margin — as there now is.
In addition to their lead in voter preference, the Democrats also have the upper hand when it comes to voter enthusiasm. Fifty-nine percent of Democratic voters said they had a “high level of interest” in the 2018 election, as compared with 49% of Republicans, the poll revealed. Those numbers were even higher based on a voter’s 2016 election choice, as 62% of respondents who voted for Hillary Clinton had a high level of interest, while just 50% of Trump voters could say the same.
President Donald Trump fared better in the poll than his congressional colleagues, as his approval rating increased to 41% from 38% in October. Respondents who “strongly disapprove” of the president’s performance, 48%, beat out those who “strongly approve,” 24%, by a two-to-one margin, however, and 56% of Americans disapprove of the president overall.
Despite Trump’s improved performance, though, analysts say that the Sunday poll is still good news for Democrats and their electoral chances.
“All in all, I think a 41% Trump approval and an +11D lead in the control of Congress definitely puts control of the Senate and the House as more doable for Democrats in 2018,” Democratic pollster Fred Yang of Hart Research Associates told NBC News.