The Obama presidency is now at a critical turning point.
Recent polling clearly and unambiguously shows that the mosque controversy and the economic malaise the country is now facing have exacerbated the general disaffection with the president and his administration -- causing President Obama’s current standing, and the prospects for the Democratic Party in this fall’s midterm elections to deteriorate significantly.
Indeed, for the first time we can see in the data, clear evidence that the Republicans could win both Houses of Congress come November.
The latest Gallup survey shows that the president’s approval rating is now down to 42% -- the lowest weekly average of his presidency – and 39% among independents.
And in the most recent Associated Press-GfK poll President Obama earned record low marks on his handling of the economy – with just 41% of Americans now saying that they approve of the president's performance on the economy, and 61 percent now saying that the economy has gotten worse or stayed the same on Obama's watch.
Looking ahead to the November midterm elections, the Republicans now lead by six points in the Real Clear Politics Generic Congressional Ballot.
Commentators are beginning to recognize that the tide is turning away from the administration and the president's Party, but they have been slow to recognize the full implications.
Increasing dissatisfaction with the established order, has led voters to seek alternatives to incumbent candidates, and is going to result in a swing to the Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections -- as evidenced in recent polls.
As the opposition Party, the Republicans have capitalized on widespread backlash against the administration. Indeed, recent polling has shown a much higher level of enthusiasm among Republicans than among Democrats with regard to the upcoming Congressional elections – at a factor of two-to-one.
The GOP needs only to win 60% of the 73 House races that election expert Charlie Cook has identified as competitive to guarantee a Republican takeover of the House.
Based on historical precedent as well as my own state-by-state and district-by-district analysis, there is a very real possibility of the Democrats losing not only the House, but the Senate as well – a fact that has gone largely ignored by the pundit class, as chances of a House takeover have dominated midterm discussion.
The Republicans stand to pick up 7-10 seats in the Senate this November – enough to effectively deadlock the Senate, and potentially give Republicans control of Congress – if everything breaks right for them.
Indeed, the Real Clear Politics Battle for the Senate analysis shows the GOP ahead in six states --- Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and North Dakota. There are an additional four seats -- California, Nevada, Washington and Wisconsin – that are currently toss-ups, putting enough seats theoretically in play to switch control.
It is clear that the November midterm election could be a blowout reminiscent of 1946 – when broad-based disapproval with President Truman, whose approval rating had sunk to 32% over his handling of a wave of post-war labor strikes was widely seen as the reason for the Democrats' twelve-seat defeat in the Senate and loss of fifty-four seats in the House – costing them control of Congress for the first time since 1930.
Douglas Schoen is a political strategist and author of the upcoming book Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System to be published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins on September 14.
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