Pew: GOP holds upper hand in mid term ballot

Rick Moran
A lot can happen in the next 6 months to change the electiopn dynamic, but as it stands now, the Republicans are in better shape at this point in the campaign than they were in the wave election of 2010, and they are doing better than Democrats were in 2006 before they took the House.

This Pew/USA Today survey has some good news for Republicans as well as some cautionary points:

With the midterm elections six months away, Democrats are burdened by an uneven economic recovery and a stubbornly unpopular health care law. Perhaps equally important, Barack Obama’s political standing is in some respects weaker than it was at a comparable point in the 2010 campaign, which ended with the Republicans gaining a majority in the House.

A national survey by the Pew Research Center and USA TODAY, conducted April 23-27 among 1,501 adults (including 1,162 registered voters), finds that 47% of registered voters support the Republican candidate in their district or lean Republican, while 43% favor the Democratic candidate or lean Democratic. The trend over the past six months in the so-called generic ballot shows that Democrats have lost ground. In October, Democrats held a six-point lead (49% to 43%) in midterm voting preferences.

While a majority of voters (54%) say that Barack Obama will not be a factor in their vote this fall, more (26%) see their vote as a vote against the president than for him (16%). In February 2010, 24% of voters saw their vote as for Obama while about as many (20%) considered it a vote against him.

[...]

Yet the public’s desire for a change from the president’s policies is almost as widespread as it was during Bush’s second term. Thinking about the next presidential election, 65% would like to see the next president offer different policies and programs from the Obama administration while 30% want Obama’s successor to offer similar policies. In April 2006, 70% wanted the next president to have policies different from Bush; 23% wanted similar policies. By contrast, in June 1999, at a later point in the Clinton administration, just half wanted the next president to pursue different policies.

While Democrats face a number of possible disadvantages in the fall, their party’s congressional leaders continue to be viewed less negatively than GOP leaders. Just 23% of the public approves of the way Republican leaders in Congress are handling their jobs while nearly three times as many (68%) disapprove. Job ratings for Democratic leaders, while hardly robust, are not as bad: 32% approve of their job performance while 60% disapprove.

There are several wild cards  that could upset GOP plans in the fall. Immigration reform tops the list. If passed it would depress the turnout of the GOP base and galvanize the turnout of Hispanics. Then there's the possibility that Ukraine could blow up into a crisis involving a military confrontation with Russia. While there isn't much of a chance of that happening, the possibility cannot be dismissed entirely.

The Middle East could blow up as well - a possibility that again, isn't likely, but the chance is there. Finally, a better than expected performance for the economy might redound to the Democrat's favor.

Those numbers don't necessarily mean that 2014 will be a wave election. As they stand now, they suggest a little better than average performance by the party out of power.

But as people begin to concentrate on the election this fall, those numbers could take off and bring the Republicans another historic victory.

A lot can happen in the next 6 months to change the electiopn dynamic, but as it stands now, the Republicans are in better shape at this point in the campaign than they were in the wave election of 2010, and they are doing better than Democrats were in 2006 before they took the House.

This Pew/USA Today survey has some good news for Republicans as well as some cautionary points:

With the midterm elections six months away, Democrats are burdened by an uneven economic recovery and a stubbornly unpopular health care law. Perhaps equally important, Barack Obama’s political standing is in some respects weaker than it was at a comparable point in the 2010 campaign, which ended with the Republicans gaining a majority in the House.

A national survey by the Pew Research Center and USA TODAY, conducted April 23-27 among 1,501 adults (including 1,162 registered voters), finds that 47% of registered voters support the Republican candidate in their district or lean Republican, while 43% favor the Democratic candidate or lean Democratic. The trend over the past six months in the so-called generic ballot shows that Democrats have lost ground. In October, Democrats held a six-point lead (49% to 43%) in midterm voting preferences.

While a majority of voters (54%) say that Barack Obama will not be a factor in their vote this fall, more (26%) see their vote as a vote against the president than for him (16%). In February 2010, 24% of voters saw their vote as for Obama while about as many (20%) considered it a vote against him.

[...]

Yet the public’s desire for a change from the president’s policies is almost as widespread as it was during Bush’s second term. Thinking about the next presidential election, 65% would like to see the next president offer different policies and programs from the Obama administration while 30% want Obama’s successor to offer similar policies. In April 2006, 70% wanted the next president to have policies different from Bush; 23% wanted similar policies. By contrast, in June 1999, at a later point in the Clinton administration, just half wanted the next president to pursue different policies.

While Democrats face a number of possible disadvantages in the fall, their party’s congressional leaders continue to be viewed less negatively than GOP leaders. Just 23% of the public approves of the way Republican leaders in Congress are handling their jobs while nearly three times as many (68%) disapprove. Job ratings for Democratic leaders, while hardly robust, are not as bad: 32% approve of their job performance while 60% disapprove.

There are several wild cards  that could upset GOP plans in the fall. Immigration reform tops the list. If passed it would depress the turnout of the GOP base and galvanize the turnout of Hispanics. Then there's the possibility that Ukraine could blow up into a crisis involving a military confrontation with Russia. While there isn't much of a chance of that happening, the possibility cannot be dismissed entirely.

The Middle East could blow up as well - a possibility that again, isn't likely, but the chance is there. Finally, a better than expected performance for the economy might redound to the Democrat's favor.

Those numbers don't necessarily mean that 2014 will be a wave election. As they stand now, they suggest a little better than average performance by the party out of power.

But as people begin to concentrate on the election this fall, those numbers could take off and bring the Republicans another historic victory.