Pew Research Boss: Republicans Not Doing So Bad

Friday, 08 Nov 2013 11:46 AM

By Dan Weil

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Since the government shutdown last month, political commentators have been sounding the death knell of the Republican Party. Not so fast, says Andrew Kohut, founding director of the Pew Research Center.

"Tucked away in recent polls — which have documented the extraordinary anger directed at the Republican Party during the shutdown crisis — are measures of clear disappointment with the Democratic Party," he writes in The Wall Street Journal.

"The disappointment is substantial, and it raises big questions about the 2014 midterms."

Yes, the Republicans' favorable rating dropped to 28 percent in a Gallup poll at one point. "Yet when the GOP was matched up against the Democrats on key political measures, it did not look so bad," Kohut says.

In mid-October, a Pew Research poll determined that 44 percent of Americans view Republicans as "better able to deal with the economy" than the Democrats, while only 37 percent chose Democrats.

In an Oct. 15 poll, 42 percent of Americans said the GOP can better manage the federal government, while 39 percent prefer the Democrats.

Pew also found in mid-October that Democrats enjoy a 6 point lead (49 percent to 43 percent) for the House in 2014. But Democrats also had a similar lead in 2009 before getting pasted in 2010, Kohut points out.

"One clear troubling sign for the Democrats at this early stage is independent voters, who decide most elections," Kohut writes.

"They are evenly divided, according to Pew's mid-October survey." Each party gets 43 percent.

President Barack Obama is dragging Democrats down, Kohut says. His approval has plunged to 42 percent as of Gallup's survey Thursday.

"The economy and Obamacare's inauspicious debut are likely the most powerful drags on the president and in turn on his party," Kohut says.

"Broad discontent with the launch of Obamacare has only reinforced concern about the president's policies." Public disapproval of the healthcare law stood at 52 percent, according to an Oct. 21 Pew survey.

"Ken Cuccinelli's defeat in once-solidly Republican Virginia by a weak Democratic candidate reflected the tea party's problems with women, voters under 50 years of age, and minorities," Kohut says.

"But Chris Christie's sweeping victory among men and women, young and old, black, white and Hispanic in a blue state is a measure of the continued viability potential of the Republican brand, its problems notwithstanding."

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