The midterm elections are still six months away, but President Obama’s approval numbers have dipped to a new low, raising fears among Democrats that he could pull down the party in November and possibly even help Republicans take control of the Senate, in addition to the House.
In the new ABC News/Washington Post poll, in addition to Obama’s approval rating of 41 percent—the lowest he’s ever received in an ABC/Post poll— it revealed that a majority of voters would prefer to see Republicans in charge of Congress to check the administration’s policies. For a Congress whose poll numbers have been astoundingly low for years, this is a significant change of fortunes—and very bad news for the Democrats.
By a margin of 53-39 percent, registered voters say they’d rather see the Republicans in control of Congress as a counterbalance to Obama’s policies than a Democratic-led Congress to help support him. The pollsters point out that the split was similar in fall 2010 — when the Republicans took control of the House and gained six Senate seats, effectively sinking Obama’s chances of getting through any substantial legislation.
While just 41 percent of poll respondents approved of the way Obama is doing his job and 52 percent disapproved, the president also had bad numbers on a wide variety of questions: handling of the economy (42 percent approve, 54 percent disapprove); handling of Russia and Ukraine (34 percent approve, 46 percent disapprove); and implementation of the health care law (37 percent approve, 57 percent disapprove).
As for the costs of healthcare, just 8 percent of voters believe their health care costs have decreased because of the changes in the law, whereas 47 percent think their health care costs have gone up.
And perhaps most disturbingly for the White House, on the pivotal question of whether the country is headed in the right direction or is on the wrong track, just 33 percent said the country is headed in the right direction, while 66 percent said it’s on the wrong track.
But overall the poll wasn’t all bad news for Democrats. On virtually every measure, the public said they would rather see Democrats than Republicans in charge of the issue. On the question of who the public would you rather see coping with the main issues facing the country, Democrats won by a margin of 40 percent to 34 percent.
This is how the others broke down: handling the economy (Democrats, 41-38), handling health care (Democrats, 43-35), handling immigration (Democrats, 40-34), helping the middle class (Democrats, 52-32), women’s issues (Democrats, 55-25). Republicans were chosen on the issue of handling the federal deficit, 44-35.
As for social issues, asked which party’s views are closer to your own, respondents broke down this way: gun control (Republicans, 44-39), abortion (Democrats, 43-39), gay marriage (Democrats, 45-31), raising the minimum wage (Democrats, 49-33), global warming (Democrats, 47-29).
The poll was conducted April 24-27 with a random sample of 1,000 adults on landlines and cellphones. The margin for error is plus or minus 3.5 points.