Numbers For Democrats From April’s NBC-WSJ: Better Than A Month Ago, But Still Cruisin’ For A Bruisin’

According to the latest NBC-WSJ poll conducted April 23-27, 2014, overall results are worse for the president and Democrats than the comparable findings on the last weekend heading into the 2010 election on five of six key national measures including:

  • Direction of the country;
  • Presidential job approval overall;
  • Presidential job approval among whites;
  • Congressional Preference;
  • Presidential economic approval, and;
  • Economic outlook for the next 12 months.

The data today, in April, is on track to be as bad, or worse, than in October 1994, 2006, and 2010, when the incumbent president’s party got hammered by a “revolution,” a “thumpin’,” and a “shellacking,” respectively.

See the chart below:

chart 1

The president’s job approval among white voters is important to note because in a large number of incumbent GOP House seats the electorate will be 80{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} white or higher – and, of course, there are a number of key Senate races (AR, CO, IA, KY, MI, MT, & NH, etc.) where the percentage of white voters could be in the high-70’s or higher. Importantly, the president’s job approval among whites has been only at 35{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}, or lower, in every track we have done to date in 2014.

The president has always enjoyed very high approval numbers among African Americans and Latinos, at a level not available to a Republican president.  So, this is of course why it is not particularly instructive to directly compare President Obama’s and President Bush’s job approval in the context of an off-year election. For example, Bush’s last job approval number in 2006 was still at 45{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} among white Registered Voters.

But, even with the cushion of support from his base, disapproval with how the president is handling the economy is significantly higher than George W. Bush in October 2006 and even a bit higher than his own October 2010 numbers. No wonder James Carville advised Democrats against the use of the word “recovery.”

The one measure that is “better” than 2010 is congressional preference, which is tied overall with registered voters, compared to a two point GOP edge in the last track of 2010. But, this result is among registered voters overall and does not reflect the Republican edge seen in poll after poll among likely voters.

This data conveys a fundamental point; the president’s standing may be “better,” including his once again having a net positive personal rating.  But, “better” than last month does not mean “good” – and, in this case, “better” actually means worse than 2010! The data continues to portend a very difficult election season for the Democrats.

(Public Opinion Strategies partners with Peter D. Hart Research Associates to conduct the NBC/WSJ polls.  Neither Peter D. Hart Research Associates nor NBC/WSJ are responsible for these conclusions.)

Public Opinion Strategies