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USA Today/Pew Poll: GOP Midterm Gains Could Be Largest in Two Decades

Image: USA Today/Pew Poll: GOP Midterm Gains Could Be Largest in Two Decades

By Melanie Batley   |   Monday, 05 May 2014 08:02 AM

Voters currently have so strong a preference for the Republican Party that if midterm elections were held today the results would signal the strongest gains for the GOP in two decades, a new poll has found.

According to the new USA Today/ Pew Research Center Poll conducted April 23-27 of 1,501 people, including 1,162 registered voters, 47 percent said they are inclined to support the Republican candidate over the Democrat in their congressional district in 2014, compared to 43 percent who would choose a Democrat.

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

That result is so massive that it suggests 2014 could be a major "wave" election more sweeping than the election of 2010 that saw the tea party movement's rise to dominance.

"That 4-percentage point edge may seem small, but it's notable because Democrats traditionally fare better among registered voters than they do among those who actually cast ballots, especially in low-turnout midterms," USA Today noted.

"The friendly landscape, if it holds, could help the GOP bolster its majority in the House and gain the six seats needed to claim control of the Senate."

The trend over the last six months in the polling data has shown that Democrats have lost ground, Pew said. Specifically, in October, Democrats had a 6-point lead (49 percent to 43 percent) in midterm voting preferences.

The GOP's lead in the generic congressional ballot is the largest at this point in the midterm cycle for Republicans in the past 20 years, including before the partisan "wave" elections in 1994 and 2010.

In 1994, when the GOP went on to gain back control of both the House and the Senate, it had a 2-point advantage in the spring of the election year. In 2010, when Republicans would win back the House, the parties were even in their support among voters at this time during the election cycle.

Voter opinions on a number of key issues appear to be hurting the Democrats, according to the survey, including dissatisfaction with the direction of the country, downbeat views about the economy, skepticism about the Affordable Care Act, and the president's low job approval rating.

"Perhaps the most disturbing sign for Democrats: By 43 percent to 39 percent, Americans say following the economic policies of Republican congressional leaders would do more to strengthen the economy over the next few years than following the policies of the Obama administration," USA Today said.

Meanwhile, the survey also found that 65 percent of Americans, compared to 30 percent, say they want the president elected in 2016 to pursue different policies and programs than the Obama administration, rather than similar ones.

Nevertheless, the survey found that while Democrats face a number of possible disadvantages in the fall, their party's congressional leaders are viewed less negatively than GOP leaders. Just 23 percent of the public approves of the way Republican leaders in Congress are handling their jobs, compared to 68 percent who disapprove.

For Democratic leaders, 32 percent of those surveyed approve of the job they are doing, compared to 60 percent who disapprove.

"Despite weak job ratings for Republican leaders, the public is divided over whether their economic policies or Obama's would do more to strengthen the economy over the next few years," Pew said.

"About four in 10 (43 percent) think Republican leaders' policies would do more for the economy while about the same share (39 percent) says Obama's policies would be more effective."

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

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