Poll: Federal Employees Slightly Prefer Democrats in Upcoming Midterms
President Biden's approval rating is slightly underwater among civil servants.
Federal employees are slightly more likely to vote for Democrats over Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections, according to a new poll, though they disapprove of their top boss—President Biden—by a slim margin.
For their House members, 46% of federal workers are planning to vote for the Democratic nominee and 35% are planning to vote for the Republican, according to the survey from Market Connections, a research arm of GovExec. Independents favored Democrats by a similar margin, but 41% of them are still undecided. Thirteen percent of Republicans are planning to vote for the other party, while just 6% of Democrats will do the same. The margin tightened for Senate races: just 37% of feds are planning to vote for a Democrat in those races, compared to 33% for a Republican. The rest of the respondents were either unsure or did not have a Senate race in their state.
National polls of all U.S. voters show Republicans likely to take control of the House, though the Senate remains a tossup. Federal employees appear tuned in to the upcoming election, which is already underway in many states, with 98% of them at least somewhat likely to vote and 93% very likely.
Biden received slightly better marks from feds than the general public, though he remained underwater. Just 48% of those surveyed expressed approval for Biden, while 52% disapproved. Biden retained support from 87% of Democratic federal workers and just 11% of Republicans.
Among issues directly impacting the federal workforce, employees felt the strongest about their pay and benefits. Eight in 10 feds said they were very important. It was also the one topic in which a clear majority of respondents said Democrats handled the issue better, including 23% of Republican feds. Other top issues for civil servants are getting the budget and appropriations passed on time, ensuring adequate resources to perform their jobs and setting a tone of respect for the workforce.
Maintaining a flexible workplace—a recurring topic of discussion in the post-pandemic world—ranked lower on the list, but saw the biggest gap based on party affiliation. Two-thirds of Democrats called it a very important issue, compared to just more than one-third of Republicans. Feds gave the strong marks to Republican lawmakers on reducing government waste, the only issue on which the party outranked Democrats.
Overall, just 27% of federal workers approve of the job Congress is doing. One-in-five employees say they would consider leaving their job if Democrats sweep the election, while just 14% said they would if Republicans do so.
While feds overwhelmingly say their workplaces are collegial, 72% said they do not feel comfortable expressing their political views at the office. That was particularly true of Republicans, 30% of whom said they have been threatened at work due to their political views. Several agencies across government have reported spikes in threats against federal workers, pointing to backlash to the FBI’s search of President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in Florida and recent funding provided to the Internal Revenue Service. Only a slight majority of Republicans say lawmakers’ rhetoric has contributed to those threats, while 81% of Democrats said the same.
The survey data was collected from a random sample of 298 GovExec subscribers from Sept. 19 through Oct. 19. It has a margin of error +/- 5.6% at a 95% confidence level. See the full survey results here.