GUY RAZ, host:
Now, up until yesterday, the Pew Research Center was still asking a sample of registered voters about the upcoming election. And overnight, they ran the numbers. And Andy Kohut from Pew joins me here in the studio to tell us what he found.
And, Andy, I suppose the headline, no surprise: Republicans very likely to take back the House.
Mr. ANDY KOHUT (President, Pew Research Center): Yeah. We have, in this poll conducted Thursday through yesterday, Saturday, a 48 percent to 42 percent margin favoring Republicans when we ask people how are they going to vote when it comes to the House of Representatives.
Now, that's pretty much what we had October 13 through 18, middle of the month, and even what we had in early September. So there is a consistency to the Republican lead. It's sizable enough. And we know that there's a strong correlation between the popular vote and the likely number of seats each party will have, and it would seem pretty likely that the Republicans are going to have enough after this election to be the majority party.
RAZ: Now, this poll is hot. It's just off the press. I got it just shortly before you arrived. I was surprised to see the enthusiasm gap. It seems so enormous. I mean, Republicans seem so much more fired up about this election than Democrats.
Mr. KOHUT: Yeah. I mean, when we look at the views of all registered voters, there's hardly any difference in terms of preference. In fact, there's a one-point Democratic advantage. But when we narrow it to likely voters, the Republicans are up by this 48 to 42 margin. And that's a bigger difference between likely voters and all registered voters than we've seen in a very long period of time.
Just one example of how much more enthusiastic the Republicans are: 70 percent of them said they've given this election a lot of thought. Only 55 percent of Democrats say that.
Mr. KOHUT: Now, the Democrats are 55 percent is pretty typical of what the Democrats say...
Mr. KOHUT: ...except for four years ago when they were really fired up about voting Bush's party out of office. But it's the Republican energy that makes for this turnout advantage gap.
RAZ: Let me ask you about some of the issues you asked voters about. The job situation is the top priority for all voters, no surprise there, but a huge gap between Democratic voters and Republicans on the issue of the deficit. Tell me what you found.
Mr. KOHUT: Well, 19 percent of voters overall said the deficit, but among Republicans, that goes up to 27 percent, and it falls down to 9 percent among Democrats.
For Democrats, it's largely unemployment. And for independents, unemployment is the top issue. But for Republicans, it's pretty much of a toss-up between jobs, deficit and health care.
RAZ: Neither Afghanistan nor terrorism are top issues for voters. But surprisingly, given the amount of attention paid to the issue of immigration, particularly in campaign ads, immigration doesn't seem to be such a big issue for many voters.
Mr. KOHUT: When there's a mega issue like unemployment and the economy, generally a lot of the other issues that are quite important to many people just don't have the saliency in an election like this.
RAZ: What surprised you, if anything, about the poll results?
Mr. KOHUT: What surprised me is the breadth of the Republican gains since 2006. They've made gains among most segments of the electorate, especially among men, older voters of 65 and older and independent voters.
But and the Democrats only lead among low-income voters, African-Americans and union members. So this is very broad-based, and we don't see some groups like women who typically vote Democratic...
Mr. KOHUT: ...giving the Democrats a solid vote of confidence.
The other thing - the most important thing about the breakout of the vote is that independents are favoring heavily the Republicans 45 to 32. Four years ago, they voted heavily in favor of the Democrats. And in the presidential election, they helped elect Barack Obama. So this is the third election in a row where they voted against the party in power. They are not happy.
RAZ: That's Andrew Kohut. He's the president of the Pew Research Center. He's talking about their latest poll numbers ahead of Tuesday's election.
Andy Kohut, thank you so much.
KOHUT: You're quite welcome.
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