POLITICS -- September 7, 2010 at 7:57 AM ET
New Polls Show Democrats in Deep Hole
President Obama walks to the Oval Office on Monday after returning from a trip to Milwaukee. Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images.
The new Washington Post/ABC News and Wall Street Journal/NBC News polls released Tuesday provide a double whammy of bad news for Democrats and the Obama White House eight weeks before the votes are counted and control of Congress is determined.
If you're looking for a silver lining for the Democrats in these numbers, it simply isn't there. The one thing Democrats will, no doubt, try to highlight is that there's no great love affair with Republicans among the voters. The part Democrats are likely to leave out is that it appears not to matter.
Some highlights from the Washington Post/ABC News poll:
Among likely voters, 53 percent say they would vote for a generic Republican candidate for Congress this year vs. 40 percent who say they would vote for the generic Democrat on a ballot. That 13-point GOP advantage is the largest in the poll's history dating back to 1981.
President Obama scores his lowest approval rating to date: 46 percent approve of the president's job performance, while a slim majority, 52 percent, disapprove.
The poll shows a six-point increase since July, from 32 percent to 38 percent, in voters who say the economy is getting worse.
The Washington Post's Dan Balz and Jon Cohen take a look at those critical independent voters:
"The poll findings highlight one of the most significant problems for Obama and Democrats heading into fall: a steep erosion in support among independent voters. In 2008, Obama won independents by eight percentage points. In 2006, independents broke for Democratic House candidates by an unprecedented 18-point margin."
"Independents' disapproval of the president has reached an all-time high, with 57 percent giving him negative marks. About 61 percent of independents say Obama has not brought change to Washington. Nearly half now consider him "too liberal" ideologically."
"Overall, by a 13-point margin, independent voters say they would support Republican over Democratic candidates in their House districts. A majority of independents - 59 percent - say they would prefer to have Republicans in charge of Congress to serve as a check on the president's agenda."
"In the survey, those who expressed the very highest levels of interest in this year's election preferred a Republican Congress by a margin of 53% to 35%. Among all other, less interested voters, Democrats are preferred by a 20-point margin."
"So Democrats' most urgent challenge in the next eight weeks is to turn these uninterested voters into interested voters--a difficult task, but one party leaders insist they are tackling."
Stu Rothenberg, one of the most-watched congressional handicappers in Washington, updates his House overview: "Likely Republican gain of 37-42 seats, with the caveat that substantially larger GOP gains in the 45-55 seat range are quite possible."
ON THE AIR
Helping to kick off the post-Labor Day political frenzy, two of Florida's three Senate candidates will be out with their first television ads of the general election on Tuesday.
Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek released his new spot in an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
The ad, called "Only One," puts Meek in humorous settings, like riding aboard an airboat, with the candidate saying, "I'm the only one who has fought against developers draining the Everglades."
There's no mention of Meek's two opponents -- Independent Gov. Charlie Crist and Republican Marco Rubio -- but the spot does look to highlight Meek's positions on issues important to the Democratic base, such as the environment, Social Security and abortion rights.
Crist is also ready to unveil his first ad of the general election, called "Best of Both." In it, Crist appears on screen with the word "Democrats" appearing in blue letters on one side of him and "Republicans" in red on the other side, with Crist saying: "How do we get results for Florida? By putting aside our differences and putting people ahead of politics."
Crist then begins to rearrange the letters, continuing his narration: "As an independent, I will take the best ideas of Democrats and Republicans to get things done. Because at the end of the day, there's only one party I work for." At this point, it's revealed that Crist has spelled "Americans."
The National Republican Senatorial Committee released a statement in response to Crist's spot:
"If Floridians have learned anything from Charlie Crist's politically opportunistic policy shifts and empty rhetoric, it's that he's willing to say or do anything in an attempt to get elected. Charlie Crist only cares about his own interests, and his misleading claim to 'put people ahead of politics' simply does not match reality," NRSC Press Secretary Amber Marchand said in a statement titled: "Crist New TV Ad Spells 'Opportunist.'"