What A Difference An Election Cycle Makes

By Bill McInturff and Alex Bratty

As the 2010 election season heats up our latest NBC/WSJ poll* is hot off the press this week with some illuminating data about where things are headed this November. We’ve been signaling for a while now that the landscape favors Republicans this year, and this poll indicates that things are starting to solidify.

Consider the key data:

  • The mood of the country is as sour as we have measured since President Obama took office (29{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} right direction, 62{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} wrong track).
  • For the first time in our NBC/WSJ poll the President receives a net negative job approval rating (45{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} approve, 48{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove).
  • The enthusiasm gap for the upcoming elections (which I wrote about a couple of months ago), is as wide as we have ever witnessed. Two-thirds (66{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) of Republicans say they are very interested in November’s elections, compared to just 44{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Democrats.

It’s no mystery where this chasm in interest is coming from. Looking back two years and comparing our June 2008 data to today, the groups that have dropped the most in their interest in the election constitute the Democrat Party Base: Obama voters, Liberals, African Americans, Democrats, Moderates, residents of the Northeast and Western regions of the country, and young voters age 18-34.

Indeed, in June 2008 we were looking at a 19-point voter preference for a Democrat-controlled Congress (52{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) over a Republican-controlled Congress (33{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}). Today, for the first time since October 2002 in our poll, the lines have crossed. Now, voters express a modest preference for a Republican-controlled Congress (45{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) over Democrat control (43{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}). Looking at where Democrats have lost ground reveals some key swing voter groups have lost faith with the party in power.

These are difficult and challenging numbers for Democrats. When you think about the various issues on their political agenda between now and the fall it’s hard to imagine a scenario that’s going to reverse these voter trends that have been building over the last six months and now appear to be locking into place for November.

*NBC/WSJ national survey conducted June 17-21, 2010 among 1,000 adults. Data for Congressional preference shown among N=879 reg voters.




(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