Obama shouldn't sweat his lousy poll numbers

There’s Not Much Purple On The Congressional Map

In the mid-term elections, Obama’s approval rating can only really tilt the outcome in purple, or highly competitive, congressional districts. And there are fewer of those than ever before. Redistricting has wiped out swing districts in favor of safe zones for Republicans and Democrats.

“Majorities are built in Congress based on a much smaller universe of swing districts,” says Republican Madden. “But in those swing districts, it’s the president’s popularity that usually makes the difference between whether a Democrat can win or a Democrat will lose.”

Political scientist Baker says winning the 17 seats necessary to regain control of the House from Republicans “has always been an uphill prospect for the Democrats,” no matter what the president’s approval rating might be.

Still, this week’s gubernatorial election in Virginia showed that Obama could be a drag on Democratic candidates in purple areas. Terry McAuliffe was forecast to carry the state by double digits. Instead, he won by a much smaller margin.