Republican candidates now have an eight-point lead over Democrats, their biggest lead of the year, in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot.
The new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 44 percent would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate while 36 percent would opt for his or her Democratic opponent. Support for GOP candidates held steady over the past week, but support for Democrats slipped by a point.
Perhaps this helps to explain why Parker Griffith, a freshman congressman from northern Alabama, is expected to announce today that he is switching parties. Elected as a Democrat, he is switching to the GOP because of unhappiness with national Democratic policies. Several other Democratic congressmen in swing districts have announced that they will not seek reelection next year.
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Men prefer GOP candidates by 19 points over Democrats, while women are evenly divided between the two. Among voters not affiliated with either party, Republicans lead by a 43 percent to 19 percent margin.
Republicans have held the lead on the ballot for over four months now. But since early November their lead has steadily increased. Democrats currently have majority control of both the House and Senate.
Since late June, support for Republican candidates on the Generic Ballot has ranged from 41 percent to 44 percent, while support for Democrats has run from 36 percent to 40 percent. Looking back a year ago, the two parties were in a much different place. Throughout the fall and winter of 2008, support for Democratic congressional candidates ranged from 42 percent to 47 percent. Republican support ranged from 37 percent to 41 percent.
If a Tea Party candidate is in the race, the picture changes dramatically. A separate, three-way Generic Ballot test finds that Democrats attract 36 percent of the vote, while the Tea Party candidate picks up 23 percent and Republicans finish third at 18 percent. Another 22 percent are undecided.
In November, the number of Americans identifying themselves as Democrats fell to a four-year low but is still more than the number who call themselves Republicans.
Seventy-three percent (73 percent) of Republican voters believe their party’s congressional leaders are out of touch with the party base. By contrast, a plurality (47 percent) of Democratic voters says their congressmen agree with them ideologically.
While other polling firms appear to show different results on the generic ballot, Real Clear Politics explains the differences in survey samples and question ordering, stating, “If you are asking which pollsters have it right, I'd probably put my money on Gallup-Rasmussen.”
Over the past week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid found a way to collect 60 votes and move health care reform legislation forward in the U.S. Senate. However, his negotiating and the ongoing debate did nothing to improve public opinion of the legislation. Forty-one percent (41 percent) of voters nationwide favor the bill, and 55 percent are opposed.
Fifty-seven percent (57 percent) of voters nationwide say that it would be better to pass no health care reform bill this year instead of passing the plan currently being considered by Congress.
Fifty-one percent (51 percent) say America’s economic problems are due to the recession which began under President Bush. Forty-one percent (41 percent) put more blame on Obama’s policies.
Sixty-six percent (66 percent) of voters prefer a smaller government with fewer services and lower taxes over a more active government with more services and higher taxes, the second highest finding of the year.
Voters strongly believe that black-white relations are better today - and improving - but are much less confident about the social situation with Hispanics.
We've also released recent polls on the 2010 governor’s races in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.