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« Strategy Memo: Clean Bill | Blog Home Page | McCain's Veep Meet »

Congress: Not Popular

Republicans, facing a difficult electoral landscape come November, still maintain their ace in the hole is the general unpopularity of Congressional Democrats as well as the GOP. A new poll shows they have a point, but to voters it's not necessarily enough to kick the new majority out of power.

The George Washington University Battleground poll, conducted 5/11-14 by the Tarrance Group, a Republican firm, and Lake Research Partners, a Democratic firm, surveyed 1,018 likely voters for a margin of error of +/- 3%.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind / Men / Wom / Wht / Blk / Lat)
Generic Dem......49 / 92 / 6 / 47 / 47 / 51 / 40 / 97 / 65 (+3 from last, 12/07)
Generic GOPer..40 / 3 / 82 / 27 / 43 / 36 / 46 / 3 / 28 (nc)

Both parties have upside down favorable ratings. Congressional Democrats are viewed positively by 42% of voters, while 46% see them unfavorably. It's worse for Republicans; just 31% view them favorably, while 56% see them unfavorably.

Watch Republicans make a big deal of Democrats' low job approval rating as evidence that this year will be a change election as opposed to an anti-Republican election. Just 31% approve of Congressional Democrats' job performance, while 57% disapprove. But Democrats will point out that the GOP has a worse reputation: A dismal 21% approve of the job John Boehner's caucus is doing, while 68% disapprove.

Both parties will use the poll to make the case that their opponents are unpopular, but the true test will be the next time someone releases a poll including a question on whether voters would re-elect their member of Congress or choose someone new. Usually the number of people who back their own member runs significantly higher than the number who say most members deserve re-election. Republicans' arguments for a change election could be validated if that number drops.

Still, is it enough to prevent a Republican massacre in November? Democrats certainly don't think so.