In those previous elections, Democrats’ lead on these questions was also seen as an advantage for the party. The lead sentence by the Washington Post’s Dan Balz in an article on a 1994 poll noted that “Americans say they have more confidence in Democrats than Republicans to handle the country’s biggest problems.”
The article added that, in combination with President Clinton’s high approval ratings, “the findings provide gloomy news for Republicans.” Similarly, a 2010 article, while cast in a more negative light for the Democrats and Obama (“the most anti-incumbent electorate since 1994”), portrayed the Democrats’ issue advantage as among the “positive signs” for the party.
Why haven’t these issue advantages translated into electoral success? First, the midterm electorate is not representative of the American public. The public’s preferences for Democrats on the issues may diminish or disappear once you look at registered voters or those who claim they are “absolutely certain” to vote, as Jaime Fuller of The Washington Post has noted. The Democrats’ edge on the issues is likely to dissipate further among the older, whiter group of Americans most likely to vote in November