Gallup’s latest polling on the generic Congressional ballot showed momentum swinging back to the Democrats, but Rasmussen has it going the other direction.  Their latest weekly survey puts Republicans up by 10 points among likely voters, giving them their biggest lead since mid-April:

Republican candidates now hold a 10-point lead over Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot for the week ending Sunday, July 25, the widest gap between the two parties in several weeks.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 46% of Likely Voters would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate, while 36% would opt for his or her Democratic opponent.  Support for Republicans inched up a point from last week, while support for the Democrat stayed the same.

Eighty-six percent (86%) of Republicans back their party’s candidate, while 74% of Democrats support the candidate of their party. Voters not affiliated with either party prefer the Republican candidate by a 44% to 23% margin.

Republicans have led on the Generic Ballot since mid-June 2009, and their lead hasn’t fallen below five points since the beginning of December.  Three times this year, they’ve posted a 10-point lead. However, the results were much different during the last two election cycles when Democrats regularly had large advantages.

To some extent, this is an apples/oranges comparison.  Gallup uses registered voters for its polling, while Rasmussen uses likely voters.  Depending on whether the pollster has the right turnout model in place, surveys of likely voters are more reliably predictive than those of registered voters, probably more so in Congressional elections when turnout is usually lighter than in presidential election years.

It’s easy to see what drives these numbers.  Barack Obama’s approval rating in this survey of 3500 likely voters is 44/55, with 44% strongly disapproving of his performance.  It’s actually worse than that among independents, 38/61.  He’s underwater with both men (40/60) and women (48/52), and only carries the 18-29YO age demo, 56/43.  Among all other age demos, Obama has disapproval ratings in the mid-50s or higher.

Not surprisingly, Americans are most worried about their pocketbooks in the upcoming midterms.  Forty-six percent of respondents named economic issues as their highest priority, while another 17% named “fiscal issues,” ie, spending, taxes, and the deficit.  In third place with 13% was national security.  “Domestic issues” came in fourth at 12%, which makes the Congressional fixation on ObamaCare look worse and worse.  That same order holds with independents, although national security and domestic issues tie for third place.

I’m not a big fan of the right track/wrong track question, as it is somewhat ambiguous to intent.  Nonetheless, the numbers are intriguing.  Two thirds (67%) think the US is on the wrong track, with only 28% saying that it’s going in the right direction.  Among independents, it’s 22/73.  These are powerful numbers for discontent and point towards a bad year for incumbents, even if the actual motivation can’t be entirely discerned from that metric alone.

Update: Hugh Hewitt calls this “the Democrats’ November death wish”:

Against this backdrop the Democrats refuse to extend the Bush tax cuts, refuse to fix the death tax which will skyrocket at the end of the year without action, and refuse to address the wild spending which has driven the deficit to levels that risk a fiscal stroke.

What do the Congressional Democrats instead offer as the key legislative debate?  A manifestly unconstitutional attempt to advantage themselves in elections via the so-called “DISCLOSE Act,” an absurdly partisan ploy to keep union campaign spending robust and concealed while crushing the ability of almost all other groups –except the NRA, the Sierra Club and a few other favored special interests– from impacting elections.

Not one Republican will support this proposal in the Senate, thus dooming it.  But not before most if not all Senate Democrats will go on record supporting this obvious assault on the First Amendment three months before the conclusion of an election cycle where concern over the Constitution and worries over the imbalance of power in D.C. are driving the vote.  Liberal commentators are ignoring the transparent attempt by Chuck Schumer to protect the left’s money machine at a cost of a carve out for the NRA, but new media has already shattered the attempt to pass this off as “campaign finance reform.”  Every time the president or one of the union-dependant Democrats speaks up on behalf of the law, the majority of voters just laugh at the shamelessness of the ploy.  Democrats continue to think that voters are as dumb as rocks, but they aren’t, and on this issue they know the score.

At the very least, I’d call it doubling down.  On a 16.