Poll: Generic Ballot Favors GOP in Midterms

Poll: Generic Ballot Favors GOP in Midterms
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A new survey shows Democrats -- hamstrung by economic pessimism, voter wariness over the Affordable Care Act, and the president's low approval ratings -- face a deeply unfavorable political environment just six months from this year's midterm elections. 

According to a new USA Today/Pew Research poll, Republicans hold a four-point lead in the generic congressional ballot, 47 percent to 43 percent. The numbers represent a significant rebound for the GOP: During October’s government shutdown, Democrats led on the generic ballot by six percentage points.  

The GOP's current lead is the biggest in more than two decades, according to Pew surveys, and it is largely driven by strong independent support for Republicans. Forty-nine percent of independents plan on voting Republican, and only 33 percent say they will back Democrats.

Several factors may be contributing to the results. 

President Obama's approval ratings remain underwater. Just 44 percent of Americans give him positive marks, while 50 percent disapprove of how he is handling his job. (In late April 2010, about six months before the Republican wave election, Obama earned an overall positive rating.)  

Obamacare remains stubbornly unpopular. Although the legislation received positive press coverage after the national health care exchange reached its sign-up target, a majority of Americans (55 percent) still disapprove of the law and just 41 percent approve. 

Economic pessimism, a persistent problem for the administration, remains strong. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said it is difficult to find jobs in their community. Just 27 percent of respondents said it was easy. Nearly half the country believes the economy won’t change over the next year. Twenty-four percent believe it will be worse, and 25 percent think it will improve.

The public remains divided over whether the GOP would better handle the economy, however. Forty-three percent said Republican leaders could “do more to strengthen the economy over the next few years,” and 39 percent believe the Obama administration is preferable. About 9 percent see no difference between the two. 

The survey of 1,501 adults (including 1,162 registered voters) was conducted April 23-27 and has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Adam O'Neal is a political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at aoneal@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearAdam.

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