Poll: GOP would face backlash for rejecting unemployment aid

House Republicans would face a backlash in key swing districts if they voted against a renewal of federal unemployment benefits, according to a new poll. 

Support for renewing the jobless aid ranges from 63-68 percent in four swing districts and in the Ohio district of Speaker John Boehner (R), according to polling from the liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP). 

ADVERTISEMENT
Voters asked in all four of the swing districts said they would be less likely to vote for the Republican incumbent by at least a 9-point margin next year if they vote against renewing the program. 

PPP polled the districts of Reps. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) and Gary Miller (R-Calif.) — all top targets for Democrats in the 2014 election cycle.

Boehner's district was tighter, showing 33 percent vs. 31 percent who would vote against him for failing to keep the program going.

The poll, requested by the liberal group Americans United for a Change, was released amid an aggressive campaign by Democrats to pressure Republicans into renewing the federal jobless benefits that expire on Dec. 28.

Led by House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Rep. Sandy Levin of Michigan, Democrats are breaking out county-by-county figures to churn up local news coverage about those who would be affected by an expiration of the benefits.

So far, the message seems to be getting out to local news outlets around the country, according to a map of the coverage.

House and Senate Republicans have been reluctant to pass another round of unemployment insurance while the economy is showing signs of improvement. The labor market is also showing signs of life, with unemployment now at the lowest point in five years.

But advocates for the program say that despite jobs growth, those who have been out of work for at least six months find it increasingly hard to get a new job.

The problem of long-term unemployment has plagued this recovery — 37 percent of all the unemployed fall into that category.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has vowed to make a three-month renewal the first order of business when the upper chamber returns next month.

President Obama pressed the issue in a Friday press conference, saying he would promptly sign a bill if Congress can muster up the votes to pass a renewal. 

The federal benefits expire for 1.3 million people on Dec. 28. 

The program started in 2008 when the unemployment rate was on the rise, and has continued for the past five years. The program provides federal unemployment benefits after the aid provided by states run out.

Other efforts are expected this week from advocates of the benefits, including television ads hitting Republicans on the issue. 

— This story was updated at 11:49 a.m.