As if the Post/ABC poll didn’t deliver enough bad news to Democrats this morning, the usually sympathetic WSJ/NBC poll hits them again, and hard. Barack Obama’s approval level has fallen to its lowest level in the survey series, 45/49, and confidence in his economic leadership has cratered. But it’s the generic ballot question that will have Democrats feeling like they’ve wiped out on Recovery Summer, with an eighteen-point gap among the most interested voters in the midterms:
When voters overall are asked whether they prefer that November’s vote produce a Congress controlled by Democrats or by Republicans, they split evenly, 43% favoring Democrats and 43% Republicans.
But among those who appear most likely to vote, based on their level of interest in the campaign and their history of voting, the Republicans own a dramatic 49% to 40% advantage. If that kind of lead holds, Republicans would almost certainly take back control of the House. …
One hope for Democrats is this: There are enough pro-Democrat, pro-Obama voters available to help the party head off disaster—if they can be persuaded to show up and vote. In the survey, those who expressed the very highest levels of interest in this year’s election preferred a Republican Congress by a margin of 53% to 35%. Among all other, less interested voters, Democrats are preferred by a 20-point margin.
The Journal suggests that Democrats could limit their losses by getting those voters more engaged. That’s easier said than done, as the Democratic response shows:
“We have had a voter contact program that has been going strong for more than a year,” said Jennifer Crider, deputy executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
So the DCCC has had its voter engagement effort “going strong” for more than a year … and this is the result? Just imagine what it might be like if the DCCC hadn’t been engaging their base.
Of course, it can’t be very good when the underlying impression of the economy and direction of the country show numbers this bad after two years of full Democratic control in Washington and four years of Democratic control of Congress. The right/wrong direction gets a 30/61 response, not quite the worst this year, but close to June’s 29/62. On the other hand, Obama does get the worst numbers of his term on the economy, and easily so at 39/56, down from 44/52 earlier in August and 46/50 in June, at the beginning of “Recovery Summer.”
Even worse for Obama, his personal numbers are sliding as well. When asked to describe their feelings towards Obama (not job approval), he only gets 46% positive and 41% negative ratings. In June, those numbers were 47/40; in March, 50/38. That well of goodwill appears to be slowly running dry.
And one last piece of bad news for Democrats hoping to run against George W. Bush rather than defend their own performances. When asked whether the GOP would reinstate the economic policies of Bush, 58% said the GOP has “different ideas” this time around, while only 35% bought the Bush boogeyman. That’s only 4 points above the Democratic representation in the sample, which has a 31/27/42 D/R/I split, which is a big improvement over their nine point gap just three weeks ago. When asked whether the Democrats had any new ideas, only 32% figured they did — while 62% believe they would just continue with the Obamanomics that voters appear to be abandoning. They certainly don’t have any new confidence in the economy, with 26% believing the economy will get worse and 26% saying it will get better — which is down from 34/26 earlier in August, and 40/20 in May before “Recovery Summer.”
As the old surfing Motown song says, Democrats have no place to run to, and nowhere to hide.
Update: Martha Reeves and the Vandellas performed that song; it’s not a surf song, but it’s from that era.