Democrats have taken a 1 percentage point lead over Republicans on which party's candidate voters intend to choose in congressional elections, and President Barack Obama's approval rating has increased to 49 percent.
These results from a Zogby Interactive poll conducted from Sept. 17-20 are the first since mid-May that found the Democrats ahead in the congressional generic ballot question. In an interactive poll conducted from Sept. 10-14, Republicans held a 47-41 percent lead.
The improvements from the Sept. 14 poll for Obama's approval and Democratic congressional candidates come from increases from Democratic voters, as well as smaller jumps among independents.
On the congressional generic ballot, support for Democrats from party members goes from 78 percent to 86 percent; and from independents, the change for Democrats increases from 33 percent to 35 percent. Obama's overall approval rating from Democrats increases from 79 percent on Sept. 14 to 87 percent now. Among independents, Obama's approval increases three percentage points, from 45 percent to 48 percent.
Democratic congressional candidates also benefit from groups that have been most impacted by the recession. Support from voters who have lost a job in the past year was up 7 percentage points from Sept. 14. Support for Democrats also increased between the two polls by 6 percentage points among voters who are afraid of losing their job and by 5 percentage points among those in jobs that pay less than their previous jobs.
By contrast, Democrats made gains of two percentage points each among groups who had not lost a job, are not worried about losing their jobs and have not experienced a pay cut.
In other findings:
- The percentage of voters who say the nation is headed in the wrong direction decreases from 60 percent on Sept. 14 to 55 percent now. Those choosing right direction remains at 33 percent.
- The job approval of Congress moves from 19 percent on Sept. 14 to 23 percent now. Approval of congressional Democrats' performance increased from 33 percent to 38 percent, and approval of congressional Republicans drops 1 percentage point to 25 percent.
Pollster John Zogby: "President Obama's attempts to draw contrasts with the Republicans and raise fears about a Republican takeover of Congress appear to have been successful, especially among Democratic voters. Polling shows that drawing a contrast with Republicans on whether to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy appears to make good political sense, and Democrats should force a vote that ties continued middle class tax cuts with ending those for incomes above $250,000. The Democratic gain among those most anxious about job loss is noteworthy. We'll need to see these trends continue before drawing any conclusions, but it seems the Democrats have had a good week."
The interactive poll, which consisted of 2,068 likely voters, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percent. A sampling of Zogby International's online panel, which is representative of the adult population of the United states, was invited to participate. Slight weights were added to region, party, age, race, religion, gender, and education to reflect the population more accurately.
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