Polls: Republicans gain ground in 2010 congressional elections

Two new polls underscore problems for Democrats in 2010 congressional elections, as Republicans pull even regarding the public's party preferences for candidates.

By , Staff writer

Two new polls underscore problems facing Democrats in the 2010 congressional elections.

A new Gallup poll finds Republicans and Democrats tied at 45 percent among registered voters asked which party’s candidate they would prefer if the election for Congress were held today. When that question was asked in mid-2009, Democrats led by six percentage points.

A tie favors Republicans

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Because Republicans are generally more likely to turn out to vote, especially in midterm elections, “a tie between Democrats and Republicans among registered voters probably corresponds to a Republican lead among likely voters,” wrote Gallup Poll senior editor Lydia Saad. Not only that, but Republicans say they are much more enthusiastic about voting than Democrats.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll also finds Democrats and Republicans tied – at 46 percent – when voters were asked whom they preferred in the November House elections. As Washington Post political expert Dan Balz wrote, “As recently as four months ago, Democrats held a 51 to 39 percent advantage on this question.”

Democrats narrowing advantage

President Obama’s approval rating is holding steady at a 51 percent level. But the Post cited “striking” gains for the GOP since early in Mr. Obama’s term. A year ago, Democrats had a 26-point advantage when voters were asked which party was best in dealing with the big issues. Democrats now lead by just six points.

The decline in how Americans rate Democratson dealing with the economy is especially pronounced. One month into his presidency, Mr. Obama had a 35-point lead among voters on dealing with the economy. His lead is now down to five percentage points, the Post said.

Voter unhappiness with both parties

While Republicans have gained ground on Democrats, neither party is viewed favorably, the Post-ABC Poll found. By a 52-to-44 percent margin, poll respondents viewed the GOP unfavorably. By a margin of 50 to 46 percent, those polled viewed the Democratic Party unfavorably, a new low for the party in the Post poll.

The Post poll was conducted Feb. 4-8 among a random sample of 1,004 adults. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The Gallup poll was conducted Feb. 1-3 among 1,025 adults. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

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