With less than a week to go before Election Day, widespread dissatisfaction with the way things are going in the country combined with negative views of the economy and frustration with the government point to major trouble for the incumbent majority Democrats. In addition, a Fox News poll released Friday shows President Obama’s job approval has hit a record low.
The new poll finds if the election were held today, 50 percent of likely voters would favor the Republican candidate in their House district and 37 percent the Democratic candidate, with 10 percent still undecided.
When it comes to enthusiasm, more Republicans (76 percent) than Democrats (65 percent) are extremely or very interested in the elections, and more Republicans (91 percent) than Democrats (83 percent) plan to vote for their party’s candidate.
Yet votes for the Democratic candidates look more solid: 87 percent say they will definitely vote for the Democrat, while 12 percent could change their mind. Among those favoring the Republican, 82 percent are definite they will vote that way and 16 percent may change their vote.
Among the 18 percent who have already voted, ballots have been evenly cast between the Republican and Democratic candidates.
The national telephone poll was conducted for Fox News by Opinion Dynamics Corp. among 1200 registered voters from October 26 to October 28. For the total sample, the poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. For the subgroup of 764 likely voters, the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 points.
The Obama Factor
Two-thirds of voters are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country today, and more than not think Barack Obama’s presidency has made the country weaker (45 percent) rather than stronger (37 percent).
The president’s job approval among registered voters is currently 41 percent, a record low. This compares to 43 percent in mid-October and 46 percent in early September. Half disapprove of Obama’s performance. Among likely voters, negative sentiment is even stronger: 40 percent approve and 55 percent disapprove.
Frustrations are high. Most voters feel dissatisfied (51 percent) or even angry (25 percent) about the way the federal government is working. Just one in five is satisfied (22 percent), while 2 percent are enthusiastic. Angry voters are backing the Republican candidate by a 65-point margin.
Nearly half of likely voters -- 46 percent -- say they will cast their vote to express opposition to Obama administration policies. That shouldn’t be surprising given almost all voters rate economic conditions negatively, only a quarter thinks the stimulus plan has helped the economy, and fewer than one in five wants the new health care law to remain intact.
About a third of likely voters say they will use their vote to express support for Obama policies, and 20 percent say the president will not be a factor in their vote.
Forty-seven percent of likely voters approve of the job their own representative is doing. Even so, most -- 76 percent -- disapprove of the job Congress is doing overall.
Nearly equal numbers of voters have a positive view of the Democratic (42 percent) and Republican (44 percent) parties. By a six-point spread, more voters have a negative view of the Democratic Party.
Independents favor the Republican candidate in their district by 41 percent to 27 percent, with 32 percent saying they will vote for a third party candidate or are still undecided. This raises the question of whether these independents really will show up at the polls Tuesday.
Men back the Republican candidate by a wide 30 percentage point margin. Among women, the vote splits more evenly: 45 percent back the Democrat and 42 percent the Republican.
Eighty-seven percent of likely voters who support the Tea Party movement are backing the Republican candidate.
While 76 percent of those who backed Obama in 2008 are voting for the Democratic House candidate, some 13 percent are defecting to the Republican. More of Republican Presidential nominee John McCain’s voters -- 88 percent -- are sticking with the Republican this year.
The top issue to voters this election is the economy, followed by the trustworthiness of candidates, government spending, health care, and the federal deficit.
By a wide 60-34 percent, voters disapprove rather than approve of Obama’s handling of the economy. Fully 90 percent rate economic conditions negatively, and more than twice as many say they are worse off today compared with two years ago (36 percent) as say they are better off (16 percent).
A 55 percent majority of voters disapproves of the job Obama is doing on health care. In addition, many would like Congress to repeal the new health care law, either entirely (29 percent) or in part (29 percent). Others would like to see the law expanded (20 percent). The smallest group is the 15 percent who wants to leave the law as it currently is.
Of the issues tested, the president receives his highest approval rating for his handling of Afghanistan: 43 percent approve and 45 percent disapprove.