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Polls are unclear on which political party Americans regard with greater disfavor

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Republicans are heartened, no doubt, when they see polls indicating public disapproval of President Obama’s handling of certain issues, or disapproval of the Democratic-controlled Congress.

But the same polls often indicate similar — or even greater — disapproval or distrust of the GOP.

Mort Kondracke makes some GOOD POINTS on this dichotomy.

A few excerpts (the order of which I’m re-arranging here to emphasize contrasts):

The early April Quinnipiac University poll showed that by 55 percent to 40 percent, the public disapproved of Obama’s handling of the economy and health care; by 56 percent-38 percent, his job-creation policies; and by 59 percent-34 percent, his efforts at deficit control.

(Snip)

When the Washington Post/ABC poll asked voters whether they trust Obama or Republicans in Congress more to handle various issues, they chose Obama by 49 percent to 38 percent on the economy, 52-35 on regulating the financial industry, 45-41 on controlling the budget deficit and 49-39 on health care.

All of this strongly suggests voters mean to punish Democrats this fall, not install Republicans, especially tea party types.

(Snip)

 [I]f Republicans think they are what the country is looking to for governance — or that Obama is marked as a one-term president — they need to look more closely at the polls.

That same Battleground survey showed that job approval of Republicans in Congress is lower than that for Democrats — 32 percent, with 59 percent disapproving.

The Pew poll showed that the Democratic Party has a favorability rating of 38 percent and the GOP 37 percent. Democratic congressional leaders had 38 percent approval, Republicans 30 percent.

Polls all show that roughly 60 percent of voters like Obama personally and, by similar numbers, say that George W. Bush is more to blame than Obama for deficits and the country’s economic condition.

UPDATE: An Associated Press poll released today SHOWS that a plurality of Americans want Democrats to retain control of Congress after the November elections.

Still, the picture isn’t exactly rosy for the Dems, though the Republicans are in even worse shape, and congressional incumbents are widely disdained.

An excerpt from the AP story on the poll:

Congressional Democrats win approval from only 37 percent, though congressional Republicans score an even drearier 31 percent. Democrats and Republicans are about evenly trusted to handle the economy, an issue Democrats once dominated and one that is crucial at a time when the country’s job situation, though brightening, remains grim.

Only 36 percent said they want their own member of Congress to win re-election this fall, a noteworthy drop from the 43 percent who said so in April and the lowest AP-GfK poll measurement this year. Much of the restiveness seems to be among Republicans: While Democrats were about equally divided on the question, Republicans expressed a preference for a new face by a 2-to-1 margin.

UPDATE II: Paul Krugman, admittedly a partisan, SAYS “November may not be quite the Republican blowout everyone is expecting.”

As for me, I think it’s still way too early to make any firm predictions on which party will achieve control of either house of Congress.

House races are decided district-by-district and Senate races by individual states. Lots of things can — and will — happen in the next 24 weeks. Some of them will be unforeseen events that might well swing the election trend one way or the other.

Moreover, the two parties will have boatloads of money to spend in trying to sway public opinion.

The only prediction I’m willing to make is that public interest will be relatively high, resulting in greater voter turnouts than we ordinarily see in off-year congressional elections.

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5 Comments

  1. Neftali

    Speaking of polls, according to Gallop, more Americans are “Pro-Life” Than “Pro-Choice” for First Time, which certainly bodes well for the GOP.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/118399/more-americans-pro-life-than-pro-choice-first-time.aspx

  2. Snuss says: “By nearly 2-to-1, the public believes the Democrat agenda is the ‘wrong direction.’ The only way to change that is to vote them out.”

    That statement is preposterous and utterly false. Nor can Snuss cite even one major poll showing that the public, by nearly 2-to-1, believes the Democratic agenda is the wrong direction.

    Snuss is simply confusing the right-track/wrong-track polls with public sentiment on the two political parties.

    Let me try to explain this so that even Snuss can understand.

    One of the right-track/wrong-track polls in the RealClearPolitics average Snuss cites in his comment is the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll. It shows that only 34 percent of respondents think the country is on the right track. But it also shows that 50 percent approve of the job President Obama is doing. And it also shows more positive sentiment toward the Democratic Party than the Republican Party.

    In other words, some of the wrong-track sentiment probably is attributable to the Republican obstructionism in Congress.

    Much the same point can be made about several of the other polls in the RCP average, including the most recent such poll, the one from the Associated Press. That poll shows greater disapproval of congressional Republicans than congressional Democrats. It also shows, as I noted in the first update on this post, that a plurality of Americans want Democrats to retain control of Congress after the November elections.

    Snuss simply doesn’t know how to read polls. He’s always mixing apples with oranges. I challenge him to cite even one scientific poll that shows 2-to-1 rejection of the Democratic agenda, or anything close to it.

    As for bigdave’s comment, my explanation here no doubt is way over his head. It requires step-by-step logic, which is not dave’s strong suit.

  3. One other point should be made here:

    Snuss not only misinterprets the RCP average of right-track/wrong-track polls, he also completely ignores the RCP average of generic congressional polls. The latest such average shows Democrats and Republicans in a virtual dead heat (the difference being only two-tenths of one percent).

    That hardly constitutes a 2-to1 rejection of the Democratic agenda.

    I eagerly await a rejoinder from Snuss on the points I’ve made in these last two comments. If it’s foolish enough, I’m going to convert his original comment on the RCP poll averages and my response to a full-blown post so that other readers who might have missed our back-and-forth can more readily enjoy the spectacle.

    Bring it on, Snuss.

  4. expdoc

    It’s not the democratic agenda that is being rejected. It is general dislike for government and politics as usual in this country. As I’ve said before, expect incumbents from either party to struggle in the current election cycle.

  5. bigdave: Your comment predictably fails to include even one point that refutes anything I said in my responses to Snuss. Not one. You know even less about polls than Snuss does.

    Let us know if you can point to anything I said that was in error in my comment Nos. 5 and 6. Anything. Even one thing.

    (Cue the crickets.)

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