Politics & Government

Democratic poll: Public doubts GOP can combat corruption, but not convinced Dems can either

Voters are increasingly skeptical that Republicans can reduce corruption in government — but many of them still aren’t sure Democrats could do any better.

That’s the conclusion of a new round of polling released Tuesday from Navigator, a group of Democratic pollsters trying to help their party devise the most politically effective messages for 2018.

Its new survey found that only 26 percent of registered voters nationwide thought Republicans were better suited than Democrats to reduce corruption in government, compared to 37 percent who said Democrats would be more effective at it. Another 37 percent of respondents said they didn’t know enough to have an opinion.

That’s a precipitous decline for the GOP in just three months: In June, voters thought Republicans would do a better job combating corruption than Democrats, 34 percent to 29 percent.

Support for the GOP declined over the summer, with the poll showing Democrats gaining ground in both July and August. By September, the issue had swung a total of 16 points in the Democrats’ favor.

“Democrats have made significant progress in recent months on being favored to reduce corruption,” a memo releasing the results said.

The results come after federal charges were brought this summer against two House GOP lawmakers, Reps. Chris Collins in New York and Duncan Hunter in California, and a growing belief among Democrats that they can make corruption into a top campaign issue this fall. (Collins and Hunter both deny any wrongdoing.)

But even if Democrats are gaining ground on the question of corruption, two politically important parts of the electorate are still skeptical their party would do any better.

A majority of both independents (67 percent) and college-educated white voters (50 percent) said they don’t know which party would better reduce corruption, according to the survey. Democrats are competing in battleground House districts across the country that consist of heavy numbers in both demographics, especially in targeted suburban districts.

The high share of uncertain voters was a “sign that the ‘plague on both their houses’ sentiment is especially strong when it comes to cleaning up Washington,” the memo said.

The survey contained good news for congressional Democrats on health care, an issue where the party has opened up a 15-point lead — 49 percent to 34 percent — on the question of which party voters trust more to handle health care. Democrats’ advantage swells to 22 points, 42 percent to 20 percent, among independent voters.

In August, the poll showed Democrats had only an eight-point advantage on health care, 43 percent to 35 percent.

Leading Democratic strategists have pointed to the GOP’s attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act as their most important electoral issue, prioritizing it in their attack ads over other topics.

Meanwhile, the Navigator poll found a spike in awareness that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has uncovered crimes, with 52 percent now saying that it had. Forty-eight percent of voters said it hadn’t. That’s a six-point increase from last month, when just 46 percent of voters said the investigation had revealed wrongdoing. In May, just 41 percent of voters thought it had done so.

In August, former Donald Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight of the charges leveled against him, including bank fraud.

Navigator surveyed 1,033 registered voters from Sept. 5 through Sept. 9. It was an online poll.

Alex Roarty: 202-383-6173, @Alex_Roarty