More Americans credit Trump for the stronger economy, but that’s not helping the GOP: NBC/WSJ poll

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Rising satisfaction with the American economy has lifted President Donald Trump, but not the Republican campaign to hold Congress in fall midterm elections.

That’s the message of the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which measures how sustained economic strength affects the president and his party. The impacts are markedly different.

The survey shows two-thirds of registered voters expressing satisfaction with the economy. That’s a significant increase from recent years.

Moreover, voters increasingly connect that economic improvement to the president. Seven in 10 say the economy has improved during his tenure, up from 6 in 10 last June. The share crediting Trump for that improvement has grown to 44 percent, up from 38 percent last June.

That 44 percent precisely matches Trump’s job approval in the new survey, up from 39 percent in April. Rising approval of Trump among white men and independents drives that improvement.

So far, however, the president’s party has been unable to effectively link positive news to its effort to preserve control of Congress. Democrats hold a 10 point edge over Republicans, 50 percent to 40 percent, when voters are asked which party they want to win midterm elections in November.

More than that, Democrats hold a significant advantage in voter enthusiasm. Fully 63 percent of Democrats express the highest levels of interests in the fall election, compared with 47 percent of Republicans.

“Democrats’ enthusiasm matches Republicans’ in 2014 and 2010,” said Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducts the Journal/NBC poll with his Democratic counterpart Peter Hart. In 2010, Republicans captured control of the House; in 2014, they took over the Senate.

Democrats have built that edge on their leads among independents (7 percentage points), voters under age 35 (20 points), white college graduates (24 points), Latinos (24 points), and African-Americans (81 points). Republicans retain a narrow edge among whites (3 points) and a large one among white men who have not graduated from college (37 points).

The survey shows familiar partisan splits on some issues. Voters listing the economy and taxes as top concerns express a solid preference for Republicans, while those who cite health care strongly favor Democrats.

But the poll suggests events during the Trump presidency, from recent school shootings to his policies on the Mexican border, have shifted the terrain for other issues.

Voters citing the importance of guns — traditionally a source of GOP enthusiasm, favor Democrats for Congress by 58 percent to 33 percent. Those citing immigration favor Republicans by just 5 points, 49 percent to 44 percent.

One persistent challenge for Democrats remains motivating the young voters who favor them to show up on Election Day. The share of voters 50 and older expressing high interest in the election (67 percent) more than doubles the share of those aged 18 to 34 (30 percent).

Another is the unpopularity of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. By 45 percent to 21 percent, voters say they’d be less likely to back a congressional candidate who would support Pelosi as speaker.

Republicans, as the party in power now, have bigger challenges. Just 32 percent of voters say their representative in Congress deserves re-election, while 53 percent want to give someone new a chance.

That’s comparable to findings in 1994 and 2010, when Republicans won the House, and more promising for Democrats than in 2006, when they recaptured Congress. The telephone survey of 900 registered voters, conducted June 1-4, carries a margin for error of 3.27 percentage points.

Despite the uptick in Trump’s approval, and his robust 84 percent support among Republicans, the president remains a heavy general election burden for GOP candidates. By 53 percent to 31 percent, voters say they’d be less likely to support a lawmaker who votes with Trump down the line.

By 48 percent to 23 percent, they’d warm to a candidate promising to provide a check on Trump’s presidency. Support for Trump’s border and tax priorities, the poll shows, would hurt a candidate more than it would help in November.

“Trump remains at the center of the bulls-eye,” concluded Democratic pollster Hart. “It all will come back to Trump, one way or another.”