The Republican Party is at its strongest point in two decades heading into midterm elections, according to a new Pew Research-USA Today poll, the latest daunting sign for Democrats ahead of campaign season.
The GOP is at an even stronger point than in previous "wave" elections in 1994 and 2010 and looks poised to make major gains — and possibly take control of the U.S. Senate.
According to the poll, out Monday, Republicans have a 47-43 lead on the generic congressional ballot. That's a 10-point swing from October, when Democrats, boosted by GOP blame for the federal government shutdown, held a 6-point lead in the Pew poll.
Overall, Democrats are plagued by the still-sluggish economy, the unpopularity of the Affordable Care Act, and the undesirable views of President Obama. More voters (26%) say their vote will be "against" the president. Only 16% say their vote will be "for" Obama. And by more than a 2-to-1 margin, voters say they want the next president to pursue policies different from the Obama administration's priorities.
As has been seen in other polls showing trouble for Democrats this year, the party is hampered by a lack of enthusiasm. For example, only 31% of Democratic voters say their vote is "for" Obama. In 2010, that number was 47%.
Some of the other troubling signs for Democrats:
Obama's approval rating sits at 44%, compared with 50% who disapprove.
Although last Friday's jobs report showed the unemployment rate dropping to its lowest level since 2008, most people (65%) say jobs are still difficult to find. And while 25% of voters think the economy will get better next year, about an equal number think it'll get worse.
Below is a good chart from Pew that sums up the state of play this election season. Overall, it looks as if Republicans are poised for a stronger campaign than their gains in 2010. But it does not appear that they will have gains on par with the Democratic Party in 2006, when Democrats gained six seats in the Senate and 31 in the House amid the peak of President George W. Bush's unpopularity.
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