Democrats. But voters proclaim this a ‘do-nothing’ Congress, and they
blame both parties.
Going into the 2014 midterm congressional elections, Republicans
appear to have an edge.
A new CNN/ORC International voter survey out this week has a generic
GOP candidate ahead of a generic Democrat 49-44 percent. The key word
here is “generic.” Incumbents usually win in any case. Voters may
complain of a “do-nothing” Congress, but attach a name to the
candidate and they typically make an exception for their own elected
Still, the trend is not good for Democrats, including a beleaguered
president. From the start, President Obama has won precious few
opportunities to work collegially with Republicans — especially in the
House, where the Tea-Party wing of the party holds disproportionate
sway (as it looks increasingly to be doing in the Senate).
During the recent partial government shutdown, Democrats led
Republicans in the CNN/ORC survey 50-42 percent. But that quickly
changed when the sign-up for the Affordable Care Act — Obama’s main
legislative achievement — became a huge mess, which the administration
is still scrambling to repair.
A clear gender gap is at play here.
“Virtually all the movement toward the GOP has come among men,” CNN
Polling Director Keating Holland told the news organization.
“Fifty-four percent of female voters chose the Democratic candidate in
October; 53 percent pick the Dem now. But among male voters, support
for Democratic candidates has gone from 46 percent in October to just
35 percent now.”
Advocates see the potential for electoral advantage here.
Politico reports that Americans for Prosperity, a leading Tea Party
group, has begun focusing its 2014 congressional campaigning in an
effort to defeat incumbent House Democrats who support (or at least
don’t sufficiently oppose) Obamacare.
Meanwhile, despite some relatively good economic news recently — stock
market, housing, auto sales, unemployment — most Americans still don’t
see improvements to the economy.
Another CNN/ORC survey this week finds that nearly 70 percent see the
economy in generally poor shape, while only 32 percent rate it good.
It’s no wonder, then, that nearly three-quarters of the public say
this has been a “do-nothing” Congress, or that two-thirds find the
current Congress is the worst in their lifetime.
“That sentiment exists among all demographic and political subgroups.
Men, women, rich, poor, young, old — all think this year’s Congress
has been the worst they can remember,” CNN Polling Director Holland
said. “Older Americans — who have lived through more congresses — hold
more negative views of the 113th Congress than younger Americans.
Republicans, Democrats and independents also agree that this has been
the worst session of Congress in their lifetimes.”
Incumbents are nervous, wondering if this could be the year when some
“generic” challenger could oust them.
“There is just under a year to go before any votes are actually cast
and the ‘generic ballot’ question is not necessarily a good predictor
of the actual outcome of 435 separate elections,” Holland says. “A
year before the 2010 midterms, for example, the Democrats held a
6-point lead on the generic ballot but the GOP wound up regaining
control of the House in that election cycle, thanks to an historic
One more set of CNN/ORC figures particularly important in off-year
elections, which must be troubling to Democrats: Thirty-six percent of
Republicans say they’re extremely or very enthusiastic about voting.
That number drops to 22 percent among Democrats.