Recent national polling shows President Obama in nearly an identical place where President Bush was at this point in his second term, just a couple weeks before the midterm election:

chart 1

The connection between a President’s approval ratings nationally and the historic outcome of midterm elections is already well-documented. And, it’s not really breaking any news to suggest that Obama and Democrats this year are facing difficult terrain and significant losses across the country, much as Bush and Republicans did in 2006.

But, looking closer at the chances of Democratic Senators up for re-election this year suggests another similarity with 2006. I took a closer look at how incumbent Senators may fare on Election Day in comparison to where the President’s approval rating falls in their individual state(s), comparing where these Democratic candidates/Obama’s approval rating is now versus what happened with Republican Senators/Bush’s approval rating in 2006.

In 2006, on average, six Republican Senate incumbents who lost bids for re-election ran only six points higher than where President Bush’s approval rating was in their state. And, today, six Democratic Senate incumbents facing tough re-election fights are also running only six points higher than where President Obama stands in their state.

Chart 2

Bottom line – while anything can happen between now and November 4th, the President’s current approval ratings in these competitive U.S. Senate races are acting as an anchor on Democratic support, making it very difficult for these Democratic incumbents to break through this “Obama ceiling” and win re-election.

Public Opinion Strategies