It’s the inflation—not the pronouns.
That’s a major takeaway of a recently released midterm election survey that interviewed more than 5,000 Americans over the first two weeks of November about their planned votes.
The survey comes from Navigator, a firm focused on research and polls on progressive policies and causes. Its midterm survey, though, isn’t about advancing progressive opinion. The primary focus of the poll is to analyze what issues drove voters to support either Democratic or Republican candidates.
Inflation, abortion, the economy, and crime were the top issues for voters overall, the poll notes. Voters who saw inflation as the sole election issue broke for Republicans. Voters who also cared about abortion and jobs as top issues (but still cared about inflation) broke for Democrats.
The big lesson for Republican candidates comes further down the results when they asked people who voted Republican what their reasons were behind the vote. The very top reason people voted for Republicans was to “reduce government spending and get inflation under control.” Forty-nine percent of the people who voted Republican in the survey tagged this as their reason. It was followed by crime fears, immigration fears tied to the flow of drugs (even though it’s almost never immigrants who are responsible for drug trafficking at the border), and bolstering domestic energy production and getting gas prices down.
All the way at the bottom of the list was culture war agitation. Only 21 percent said they voted for Republicans to “combat cancel culture and protect freedom of speech.” Only 20 percent said they voted for Republicans to “keep transgender athletes out of girls’ sports teams and stop the promotion of transgender surgeries on our children.” Parents’ rights and getting “political agendas” out of classrooms fared a little better but still drove less than a third of Republican votes.
Despite the intense backlash and media attention culture war issues—especially LGBT issues—receive, it seems they were clearly not a driver of the election results. Of course, concerns that medical professionals are prescribing drugs or irreversible treatments too quickly are not invalid, but the fears are far out of proportion to the number of youths affected. That’s why even though these fears receive outsized attention and drive discussion and even donations, they often don’t drive votes. When Americans look at what’s actually impacting their lives, it’s not trans activists inventing new pronouns.
As Reason‘s Eric Boehm noted after the election, culture warring and personality politics can’t fight inflation or fix the economy, and it’s time for the Republican Party to find ideas to do so. This Navigator survey suggests that Republican voters know this. It’s time for politicians and pundits to catch up.