The 2014 midterm elections are still six months away. But if they were held today, 43 percent of voters would back the Democratic candidate in their House district and 40 percent would support the Republican, according to the latest Fox News poll.
Last month, the Republican candidate was up by three points. In March, the Democratic candidate had a two-point edge.
The ballot results reverse when narrowed to only those voters “extremely” or “very” interested in the election: 46 percent would back the Republican candidate vs. 39 percent the Democrat.
That’s because Republicans (66 percent) are more likely than independents (52 percent) and Democrats (50 percent) to be extremely or very interested in the upcoming election.
Along those same lines, more voters who disapprove of President Obama’s job performance are interested in the election than those who approve (60 percent and 53 percent respectively).
When asked who would do a better job handling top issues, the poll finds Democrats have the edge on immigration (+8 points), health care (+5 points) and job creation (+5 points). Republicans have the advantage on the federal deficit (+8 points). The parties are rated about the same on handling taxes (GOP +1 point) and the economy (GOP +1 point).
Independents prefer Republicans over Democrats on five of the six issues tested (immigration splits evenly), and back the Republican on the ballot question by a 32-25 percent margin. Many independents are undecided (29 percent) or would vote for a third-party candidate (14 percent).
In mid-May 2010, almost exactly four years ago, 45 percent of voters approved and 46 percent disapproved of President Obama’s job performance, and the generic ballot was split at 41 percent each for the Democratic and Republican candidates (May 18-19, 2010).
The final Fox News poll before the 2010 midterm elections had the Republican candidate up by seven points (46-39 percent) on the generic ballot among registered voters, and the Republicans went on to gain 63 seats in the U.S. House. At that time Obama’s job rating was 41-50 percent (October 26-28, 2010).
Obama’s current job rating is 44 percent approve and 49 percent disapprove.
The new poll, released Thursday, shows current lawmakers receive their best job rating of 2014. Of course, it’s still abysmal: 16 percent of voters approve of the job Congress is doing, while 73 disapprove.
The White House has delayed a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, yet voters have decided: by a 68-24 percent margin they say build it. Majorities of Democrats (56 percent), independents (60 percent) and Republicans (87 percent) would approve the pipeline. Moreover, voters favored it by 70-23 percent last year and 67-25 percent in 2012.
It’s unclear whether comprehensive immigration reform will get a vote in Congress this year. The new poll finds that two-thirds of voters want the government to allow illegal immigrants to stay in the country and eventually qualify for citizenship after meeting certain requirements. Another 13 percent want a guest-worker program, while 18 percent think all illegal immigrants should be deported. These views are virtually unchanged going back to December 2011.
Democrats (77 percent) are more likely than independents (60 percent) and Republicans (57 percent) to favor a pathway to citizenship. Republicans (26 percent) are more likely than independents (16 percent) and Democrats (11 percent) to support deportation.
On the ongoing issue of voter identification laws, 70 percent think the laws are needed to stop fraud. Some 27 percent say the laws are unnecessary and discourage legal voters from voting.
Fully 91 percent of Republicans think voter ID laws are important to prevent illegal voting. Views among Democrats are more divided: 55 percent say the laws are needed, while 43 percent disagree. For independents, 66 percent think the laws are needed vs. 30 percent don’t.
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,025 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from May 10, 12-13, 2014. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.