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It's the final countdown to Election Day. Here's what voters are saying

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

In three days, the midterm election comes to an end, and American voters will have had the chance to vote on the direction they want for this country. NPR political correspondent Susan Davis joins us now. Sue, thanks so much for being with us.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: Election Day - not what it used to be. More like election season, right?

DAVIS: Yeah.

SIMON: ...'Cause voters have been voting for weeks now. How does this change the way the country might think about elections?

DAVIS: Well, over 30 million Americans have already voted. We don't know how they voted, but it does tell us that more and more Americans like having options when it comes to how they cast their ballot. It's one change the pandemic sort of forced on the country in 2020 but is really becoming more of the norm. There are things that are generally true about early voting. Democrats like it more than Republicans. Republicans historically still like to show up on Election Day. And forces inside the party, like former President Trump, continue to cast unfounded doubts about the security of mail-in ballots.

Our most recent NPR-PBS-Marist College poll showed about 55% of people say that they've either already voted or will do so before Election Day. And Democrats, by a 2-to-1 margin over Republicans, say they've already voted. A bit of caution here - that means you need to be a little careful when you're interpreting these early vote numbers. They are heavily skewed towards Democrats. It also means you need to be patient. With so many more mail ballots coming in, it takes states a lot longer to count the vote. And states like New York and California say final results could not be known for weeks.

SIMON: I'm glad you mentioned our polling because it also shows where voter enthusiasm seems to be strongest and where it might be lacking. Republicans might have a lot to hope for on election night. What did we learn from this final snapshot of numbers of the electorate before Nov. 8th?

DAVIS: Well, the voters who typically align with the Republican Party are very enthusiastic. We're talking about Trump voters. Rural voters and older voters are all at the top of the list while Black voters, Latinos and young voters - way at the bottom. Just one example of how big this gap is - 87% of people in the baby-boomer generation say they are very interested in the election, which means they're almost certainly going to vote, versus just 52% of Gen Z and millennials. So this is one of these big, red flashing signs for Democrats. The one group in their base - white women with college degrees do appear to be very fired up, and they are a very critical portion of the Democratic base. But these other pillars just are not excited.

SIMON: It's certainly not a role to try and predict outcomes, but history would suggest this could be a difficult election for Democrats.

DAVIS: Sure. And, I mean, there are a lot of things that have made this midterm unique. Obviously, the Supreme Court ruling, throwing out precedent on abortion rights. Republicans, particularly in the Senate, have had not the greatest recruitment year for their candidates. But the fundamentals of a midterm election is that it's a referendum on the party in power. And President Biden's approval rating is really low. It's in the high 30s or low 40s depending on the state. Voters consistently say the economy is the No. 1 issue on their mind, and that is an issue that voters tend to lean on Republican candidates when they're not feeling economically secure.

And you're right, we're not prognosticators, but we talk to them all the time. One House Republican strategist told NPR just yesterday that they think their floor is 20 seats to gain in the House. Republicans need just five to take over the chamber. When it comes to the Senate, it's a jump ball. It's a 50-50 Senate now. It's unlikely either party is going to have a bigger than a 51-seat majority. And these races are really tight. It's really coming down to three races in Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia. I think the bottom line for the Biden administration is they are very likely looking at divided government for the final two years of his first term. And these are likely to be much more combative and much less productive years with Capitol Hill.

SIMON: NPR political correspondent Susan Davis, thanks so much for being with us.

DAVIS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR and a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.