Poll: Dissatisfaction with Obama gives GOP midterm edge

Republicans hold a decided advantage headed into the midterm elections thanks to a more passionate base and creeping dissatisfaction with President Obama, according to a new poll.

Strong majorities in the George Washington University Battleground poll released Wednesday said they were dissatisfied with the president's performance on a number of metrics, from the federal budget (61 percent) to foreign policy (58 percent) to immigration (57 percent). Overall, more than half — 51 percent — say they disapprove of how Obama is handling his job. 

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And Republicans hold a clear advantage on the issue that matters most to voters: the economy. 

A quarter of respondents said that economic issues would weigh heaviest on their vote, and more had confidence in the GOP than in the Democrats to handle those problems (49 to 42 percent). Some 36 percent of respondents said their personal economic situation worsened over the past four years and another 35 percent said it had remained stagnant.

As for the president's performance on the economy, 54 percent disapproved and 44 percent approved.

That resulted in a four-point advantage for Republicans on the generic congressional ballot, where likely voters are asked which party they'd prefer to vote for in Congress. In states with tight Senate elections, Republicans held a 52 to 36 percent edge on the generic ballot.

"Republicans are getting stronger support on the generic ballot from ‘hard’ Republicans (93 percent) than Democrats are getting from ‘hard’ Democrats (89 percent) and ‘soft’ Republicans are voting a net 16 points stronger for the generic Republican on the ballot than ‘soft’ Democrats are voting for the generic Democrat," said Ed Goeas, president and CEO of The Tarrance Group.

"All of these measures exceed where the GOP was at this point in the 2010 cycle. By any measure, Republicans are fired up and ready to deliver victories to their candidates in November, with the strong backing of independent (by 15 points) and middle-class voters (by 11 points).” 

Still, there were a few positive signs for Democrats in the survey. While dissatisfaction with President Obama is high, it remains significantly outpaced by the 79 percent who are unhappy with Congress' job performance. Majorities of voters also say Democrats better stand up for and represent middle-class values.

"Democrats enjoy advantages among a number of electoral constituencies that are on the rise (e.g., women, younger voters and voters of color), as well as important leads on issues and dimensions of leadership central to the economic debate, including standing up for the middle class,” said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners. “Given voters’ continuing focus on the economy, the component pieces for Democratic wins in November lie at the ready."

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