Poll: Republicans Now Tied With Democrats In Battle For Congress

Quinnipiac survey shows the Democrats’ 9-point lead in September has evaporated.

Protesters urge Congress to end the federal government shutdown on Oct. 9 on Capitol Hill.
National Journal
Steven Shepard
See more stories about...
Steven Shepard
Nov. 13, 2013, 7 a.m.

Im­me­di­ately after the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment shut­down, Demo­crats claimed that their mo­mentum im­proved their chances to re­cap­ture the House after next year’s midterm elec­tions. But a new poll re­leased this week shows that mo­mentum has van­ished in the wake of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s fail­ures in im­ple­ment­ing the health care law.

A new Quin­nipi­ac Uni­versity poll shows the parties are now tied on the gen­er­ic bal­lot, with each party at 39 per­cent. A com­bined 23 per­cent of re­gistered voters either prefer an­oth­er can­did­ate, wouldn’t vote, or are un­de­cided.

That is down from a 9-point Demo­crat­ic lead in late Septem­ber, im­me­di­ately be­fore Re­pub­lic­an op­pos­i­tion to the health care law led to the shut­down. In­de­pend­ent voters, who split vir­tu­ally evenly in the Septem­ber sur­vey, now back the Re­pub­lic­an House can­did­ate in their dis­trict by an 11-point mar­gin, 37 per­cent to 26 per­cent. Among white voters, Re­pub­lic­ans now have a 14-point lead, 46 per­cent to 32 per­cent. And, per­haps most strik­ingly, the poll shows no sig­ni­fic­ant dif­fer­ence in vote in­ten­tion by age, with the two parties vir­tu­ally tied, even among voters un­der 30, who stuck with Demo­crats even in the 2010 GOP land­slide.

Res­ults from the same sur­vey, re­leased on Tues­day, showed Pres­id­ent Obama with the low­est ap­prov­al rat­ings of his pres­id­ency and a spike in op­pos­i­tion to the health care law. Obama’s ap­prov­al rat­ing dropped 6 points, to 39 per­cent, since Septem­ber. And the per­cent­age of voters who say they sup­port his sig­na­ture le­gis­lat­ive achieve­ment dropped by the same mar­gin, as the on­line health in­sur­ance ex­change has been plagued by glitches and Amer­ic­ans in the in­di­vidu­al in­sur­ance mar­ket have seen their policies can­celed to com­ply with the law.

The Quin­nipi­ac Uni­versity poll was con­duc­ted Nov. 6-11, sur­vey­ing 2,545 re­gistered voters. The poll has a mar­gin of er­ror of plus-or-minus 1.9 per­cent­age points.

These de­vel­op­ments com­plic­ate Demo­crats’ am­bi­tions to take back the House after 6 years of GOP con­trol. The Demo­crat­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, House Demo­crats’ cam­paign arm, has touted a hand­ful of new chal­lengers who have jumped in­to races across the coun­try fol­low­ing the shut­down, feel­ing a wind at their backs, both na­tion­ally and in their re­spect­ive, GOP-held dis­tricts. But with Quin­nipi­ac and oth­er sur­veys show­ing Pres­id­ent Obama’s ap­prov­al rat­ing fall­ing, that tail­wind has sub­sided.

Moreover, even if Demo­crats had main­tained their 9-point edge in the gen­er­ic bal­lot, their path to a House ma­jor­ity still would have been up­hill. Re­pub­lic­ans en­joy struc­tur­al ad­vant­ages, tak­ing the 435 House dis­tricts writ large, as a res­ult of both pop­u­la­tion trends and the draw­ing of con­gres­sion­al dis­tricts. Demo­crat­ic voters are more clustered in urb­an areas, and Re­pub­lic­an gains in 2010 al­lowed them to draw lines that max­im­ized their ad­vant­ages in some states. There is also evid­ence that gen­er­ic bal­lot polls un­der­es­tim­ate Re­pub­lic­an sup­port, par­tic­u­larly at the early states of the cycle.

Though Quin­nipi­ac hadn’t polled since be­fore the shut­down, the dis­sip­a­tion of Demo­crat­ic mo­mentum seems more closely tied to the in­creas­ing un­pop­ular­ity of the health care law. Only three and a half weeks ago, im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the shut­down’s end, an ABC News/Wash­ing­ton Post poll showed Demo­crats still lead­ing the GOP on the gen­er­ic bal­lot by 8 points among re­gistered voters and Amer­ic­ans’ views on the health care law al­most as fa­vor­able as un­fa­vor­able.

The real battle, as things stand presently, is in the Sen­ate, where Re­pub­lic­ans need to win six seats to wrestle con­trol from Demo­crats. With pre­cisely that num­ber of Demo­crat­ic-held seats in states that went for Re­pub­lic­an Mitt Rom­ney in last year’s pres­id­en­tial elec­tion (Alaska, Arkan­sas, Louisi­ana, North Car­o­lina, South Dakota, and West Vir­gin­ia), the GOP’s chances there are stronger now than they were be­fore the shut­down, giv­en the in­creas­ing de­gree to which voters’ Sen­ate choice is tied to their opin­ion of the pres­id­ent.

What We're Following See More »
PROCEDURES NOT FOLLOWED
Trump Not on Ballot in Minnesota
1 days ago
THE LATEST
MOB RULE?
Trump on Immigration: ‘I Don’t Know, You Tell Me’
2 days ago
THE LATEST

Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”

Source:
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
3 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
QUESTIONS OVER IMMIGRATION POLICY
Trump Cancels Rallies
4 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Source:
‘STRATEGY AND MESSAGING’
Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
4 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”

Source:
×