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Axelrod admits Dems have 'major hurdles,' after new poll

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FILE 2012: "Every bit of evidence points to stronger GOP turnout in a low turnout elections this fall. Major hurdle for Ds."Reuters

Former top Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod acknowledged Saturday that Democrats face tough challenges in November, following a new Associated Press-GfK poll that shows voters increasingly appear to want Republicans over Democrats to control Congress.

"Every bit of evidence points to stronger GOP turnout in a low turnout elections this fall. Major hurdle for Ds," Axelrod tweeted after the poll was released Saturday.

Thirty-seven percent in the poll last month chose Republicans, compared to 36 percent who said they would rather see Democrats in charge, with the November general elections seven months away.

Asked the same question in January, 39 percent favored the Democrats and 32 percent favored Republicans.

In the new poll, registered voters, who are most strongly interested in politics, favored the Republicans by 14 percentage points -- 51 percent to 37 percent. In January, they were about evenly split, with 42 percent preferring Democrats and 45 percent the Republicans.

That's not the only positive sign in the poll for the Republicans.

Favorable views of the GOP have improved, with 38 percent overall now saying they hold a favorable impression of the party. Republicans' positive view of their own party has increased from 57 percent in January to 72 percent now.

Even impressions of the Tea Party movement have shifted more positive in recent months. GOP favorability still lags behind that of the Democrats, however, with 43 percent holding a favorable view of the Democratic Party.

The poll was conducted March 20-24. It involved online interviews with 1,012 adults, and has a margin of sampling error 3.4 percentage points.

CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL STAGNANT

Congressional approval is stagnant and negative, with just 16 percent saying they approve while 82 percent disapprove. Among those who have "a great deal" or "quite a bit" of interest in politics, 90 percent disapprove, including 61 percent who strongly disapprove.

Nearly 4 in 10 (39 percent) would like to see their own member of Congress re-elected, an improvement since January. Among registered voters who say they pay a great deal of attention to politics, 44 percent say they would like to see their current member re-elected, compared with 33 percent in January.

Those who consider themselves Democrats are now more likely than Republicans to say their own member of Congress ought to be re-elected. Not all Democrats live in districts represented by Democrats, of course, but it represents a shift in opinion since January.

WHO'S IN CHARGE

Though Republicans control the House and Democrats control the Senate, most Americans still say President Obama has a lot or quite a bit of control over what the federal government does, outpacing the share who say Democrats or Republicans in Congress are in control.

Partisans tend to see the opposition as the controlling force, with Republicans more apt than Democrats to see Obama in charge, and Democrats more likely to say the Republicans have the upper hand.

Six in 10 (62 percent) of those with a great deal or quite a bit of interest in politics say Obama has a lot or quite a bit of control of what the federal government does. Just half (51 percent) of those closely attuned to politics say Democrats in Congress exert a similar influence over what the federal government does and 40 percent say the same about Republicans in Congress.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.