Democrats hoped an improving economy, as well as healthier signup numbers for the Affordable Care Act, would help level the playing field with Republicans in the November midterms.
That is far from the case, according to polling from USA TODAY/Pew Research Center.
A new nationwide survey shows voters are leaning Republican more than ever, with the strongest partisan tilt during a midterm year in more than two decades — including Republican “blow outs” in 1994 and 2010.
Even with six months until Election Day, Democrats are still trying to shake voter angst over the economy, health care and the weak job approval numbers for President Barack Obama.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans want the next president to break away from Obama’s policies, by a 65-30% margin.
In 2014, registered voters are also leaning Republican are more inclined to support a Republican candidate over a Democrat in congressional districts 47-43%. On the surface, a four-point advantage may not seem much, but registered voters traditionally tend towards Democrats, while actual turnout numbers — especially in midterms, when turnout is lower — favors the GOP.
This trend has the potential of being the biggest Republican lead in over 20 years. Although the GOP has a majority in the House, with 233 seats, a midterm win would bolster their control in Congress.
To put it in perspective, USA Today reporters Susan Page and Kendall Breitman note that Democrats had a 2-point lead in the spring of 1994, and in 2010, the two parties were even. Both times, Republicans went on to win decisively.
The Pew Research asked 1,501 adults, with 1,162 registered voters, on April 23-27, with a margin of error of +/-3 points.
Democrats receive very little encouragement in the findings. By a margin of 2-1, Americans are unhappy with the direction of the country. They are still soured on the economy and uncertain on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Obama’s upside down popularity numbers— 44% approve and 50% disapprove –are even worrying supporters, who think he is becoming a political liability.
In Congressional races, the top issue remains the economy and jobs, chosen by 27% of respondents, followed by concerns over the federal deficit, with 19%.
One in four respondents believe economic conditions will be better a year from now, but the same amount say it will be worse. The remaining half do not expect the economy to change.
Democrats may be unpopular with voters, but that doesn’t mean Republicans are winning them over. Only 23% of respondents say Republican congressional leaders are doing a good job, while a few more (32% percent) approve of Democrats in Congress—a little better, but not by much.