ABC/WaPo poll: For the first time in 30 years, majority views Democrats unfavorably

Per Conn Carroll, not only is this the first time in recent political history that ABC/WaPo has found 50+ percent giving thumbs down to Dems, it’s the first time any major poll has found it. When The One promised us change, he wasn’t kidding.

Actually, not to go hardcore eeyore on you here, but when you dig into the numbers you realize this is a deeply depressing poll for Republicans.

Public impressions of the two political parties are similarly gloomy. Favorable ratings for the Democratic Party (39 percent) are at a 30-year low, and for the first time a majority (51 percent) gives the Democrats an unfavorable rating. The Republicans are even lower, with a 33 percent favorable rating. That is little changed since last year’s government shutdown, although the party’s unfavorable rating has improved.

Most worrisome for Democrats is that their candidates will be weighed down by unhappiness with the president. Obama’s overall approval rating stands at 40 percent, the lowest recorded in a Post-ABC News poll during his six years in office, though only a point lower than last month. Among independents, his rating is 33 percent…

His worst rating comes on his handling of immigration, with just 29 percent saying they approve of how he has handled the issue, down nine points since June. Obama has said he will use his executive powers to make changes, including giving some kind of legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants — but not until after the elections, a decision that satisfied neither side.

His numbers on handling ISIS have dropped 22 points(!) in just three weeks(!!) but Noah will have more on that in a post later this afternoon. The bottom line is, midterm elections are traditionally referenda on the president and this is no exception: Despite the GOP’s favorables being lower than the Democrats’, Republicans lead on the generic ballot among likely voters 50/43; in 2010, the year of the Republican tidal wave, the spread on election day was 6.8 points. When asked whether they’re certain to vote in November, just 63 percent of Dems say yes compared to 77 percent of Republicans. The GOP also leads big among the quarter of the electorate that views both Republicans and Democrats negatively. So how is this “deeply depressing”? Well, when I dug into the question of whether people believe Obama has a plan to fix the country’s problems, I marveled at the fact that not only do Republicans and indies think he doesn’t but nearly a third of Democrats agree:


Then I looked at the numbers for whether people believe Republicans have a plan to fix the country’s problems. Ahem:


A 40/47 split — among Republicans. Some of the disparity in the numbers above may be an artifact of the GOP being out of power; since the minority is typically forced to react to the president’s agenda, it often seems as though they lack one of their own. And yet I … can’t help thinking that it shouldn’t seem that way to a plurality of their own voters. Dig a bit further into the crosstabs and you find this, all of which is familiar but nonetheless dramatic in a political climate this inhospitable to Democrats:


The GOP does lead on multiple issues when voters are asked whether they trust Republicans or Democrats more to handle particular policy problems, but given all of the above, it’s far more likely that that’s simple fatigue with Democratic governance among the public at work than any real vote of confidence in the GOP. (Carroll notes that the downward trend in Democratic popularity is mostly a function of Democratic voters feeling disgruntled, possibly because the party hasn’t gone far enough to the left to their liking.) Looking back over those numbers, I remembered a point Mark Steyn made not long ago about the GOP’s entrenched unpopularity: Given the persistent advantage Democrats have among registered voters and the fact that they’re viewed more favorably than Republicans even when a majority views them unfavorably, if the U.S. had laws like some countries do requiring all citizens to vote, Republicans would lose every national election. Every one. Having digested this new data, ask yourself: If Republicans were even moderately popular, what sort of landslide would they be looking at next month? A 10-seat pick-up, maybe?

Don’t think the GOP establishment isn’t worried about this either:

One can only imagine how another disappointing election would affect the Republican grass roots, GOP contributors and corporate America.

As one Republican strategist admitted to me recently, if his party fails to take back the Senate next month it will only lead observers to conclude Democratic campaign operatives are far superior to the GOP’s, and Republicans don’t have a chance of winning the White House in 2016…

Current conditions are so favorable for the GOP — including the president’s poor poll numbers, the states with Senate races, the lower turnout of Democratic groups in midterm elections, the quality of this cycle’s Republican Senate recruits and the daily dose of negative news that should help the party not holding the White House — that Republican Senate gains of fewer than six seats would be a punch to the party’s solar plexus.

If Republicans don’t net those six Senate seats this cycle, they are going to find themselves trying to explain to disgruntled, disappointed donors and voters why and how they will do better in a more difficult political environment.

They’re going to get six out of all this. A news churn that features ISIS advancing on Baghdad, the CDC hemming and hawing over more Ebola infections, and maybe some new upset over the 2015 ObamaCare plans over the next few weeks assures it. But that might only get six. That’s the problem here.

Via the Corner, here’s George Will warning Fox viewers not to underestimate the Democrats’ GOTV effort. They ran laps around the GOP two years ago in that department with microtargeting to help Obama win; they’ve got their eye on doing the same thing in Colorado this year to push Mark Udall past Cory Gardner. Will Republicans be out-organized on top of all their other problems?