New Battleground Poll: challenges for both parties

A new bipartisan George Washington University Battleground Poll finds a majority of voters saying the country is on the wrong track and that the economy and jobs are their largest concerns.

“Both parties have challenges,” said Celinda Lake, President of Lake Research Partners. Lake, a Democratic pollster and strategist, directs the Battleground Poll along with Ed Goeas, president and CEO of the Tarrance Group, an influential Republican political consulting firm. Lake and Goeas were the guests at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters on Wednesday.

Mixed messages for the parties

There are mixed messages for each party in the results of the survey of 1,007 registered likely voters conducted July 19-23.

For Democrats, there is good news in the fact that President Obama has a personal approval rating of 72 percent and a job approval rating of 53 percent. But Democrats have only a three point advantage (43 to 40 percent) when voters are asked which party they would prefer to represent them in Congress.

“Our challenge is three-fold," said Ms. Lake. "Deliver on the economy and, as we are doing other initiatives, be sure that we never forget voters are worried every day about the economy. Two, show real results on healthcare and energy policies for independents, for middle class America. And three, as we go into the elections remember it’s going to be the economy and it is going to be making sure our voters turn out.”

For Republicans, the fact that 51 percent of voters think the country is on the wrong track opens some possibilities for what Lake says will be a “blame election.” And the new Battleground Poll found Republicans now say they are more likely to vote than Democrats. Some 75 percent of Republicans now say they are extremely likely to vote versus only 66 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of Independents.

On the other hand, Republicans in Congress trail Democrats in Congress on in how they are viewed by voters. Democrats have a 45 percent favorable, 44 percent unfavorable rating. Republicans have a 37 percent favorable, 49 percent unfavorable rating. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s score is 32 percent favorable, 51 percent unfavorable.

Predictions of GOP demise overdone

“The demise of the Republican Party has been over analyzed and overestimated, and that is one thing you do begin to see in the Battleground survey,” Mr. Goeas said. “I think the most important measurement as we go through the August recess coming back in the fall  is that you have over 60 percent of the electorate saying Obama is going too fast, doing too much, and saying he is spending too much.”

And Goes predicted that voters would become significantly more impatient with Obama once the national unemployment rate tops 10 percent. “There is a new measurement that will be applied by the voters” when that happens, he said.

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