Obama’s Unpopularity Continues to Hurt Dems’ Prospects
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The Fiscal Times
May 19, 2014

There’s more grim news for the Democrats that President Obama’s lowly approval rating and continued widespread dissatisfaction with the Affordable Care Act may hurt them badly in the mid-term elections.

A new survey by Politico found that in the states and congressional districts where the 2014 election will be won or lost, likely voters say they would prefer to vote for a Republican over a Democrat by seven percentage points, 41 percent to 34 percent. About 25 percent of the respondents said they were unsure how they would vote.

Six states will hold important Senate and House primary election contests on Tuesday to help set the stage for the November mid-term election showdown.  Those states include Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

Related: N.C. Senate Primary Points to Good Year for GOP

The Politico findings mirror similar recent polls that show the president and his signature health insurance program a major millstone around the necks of members of his party, although the latest figures are even more depressing for the Democrats. Case in point:

Among these critical voters, just 40 percent say they approve of Obama’s job performance – compared to a 44 percent approval rating in the latest Gallup Poll. A stunning 48 percent say Obamacare should be repealed. And 60 percent say they believe the debate over the law is not over, contrasted with 39 percent who agree with Obama that the ACA is now settled law.

Republicans are confident they will pick up at least the six seats necessary to regain control of the Senate in November, while counting on adding slightly to their majority in the House. And for now, many  political analysts agree with that assessment.

Related: A New Tidal Wave of Money Could Decide Senate Races

In University of Virginia political scientist Larry J. Sabato’s most recent “Crystal Ball” forecasts, Republicans are on track to pick up between four and eight Senate seats in November.  The Democrats currently hold a 55 to 45 seat majority.

The seven most vulnerable Democratic held seats are in Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia. Meanwhile, Republicans are likely to pick up five to eight House seats net in November, according to the latest projection.  The GOP majority is currently 233 to 200.

There is at least a glimmer of hope that the Democrats might somehow retain their majority. The Politico poll showed that even in the more conservative pivotal states like Arkansas and Georgia, as well as in tossup House districts in states such as Illinois, West Virginia and California, voters still lean in a more liberal direction on a handful of issues Democrats have promoted. Those issues include immigration reform, pay equity for men and women and background checks for gun purchases.

Freshman Sen. Mark Pryor (R-AR) is locked in a tough reelection battle with Rep. Tom Cotton, a former Army captain and Harvard Law graduate and one of the strongest challengers recruited by the national GOP party. While Pryor is considered to be one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents, recent polls show him slightly ahead of Cotton. He’s still only at 44 percent in the “RealClearPolitics Average,” but he is “showing some signs of life that weren’t really there a month ago,” according to RCP.

Related: Nation’s Airwaves Already Awash in Campaign Ads

Meanwhile, Democrat Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, is showing some strength in her bid to win a Republican Georgia Senate seat for her party in November.

A May 10 Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll shows Michelle  Nunn defeating Rep. Phil Gingrey (R) by 15 points, Rep. Paul Broun (R) by 13 points, Rep Jack Kingston (R) by 10 points and former Georgia Secretary of  State Karen Handel by eight  points. Her closest competitor is businessman David Perdue, the leading candidate in the Republican primary.

But another poll by NBC News/Marist two days later showed Nunn trailing Perdue by four points and Broun by one point, while being tied with Kingston. The poll showed that Nunn also had smaller leads over Gingrey and Handel.

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Washington Editor and D.C. Bureau Chief Eric Pianin is a veteran journalist who has covered the federal government, congressional budget and tax issues, and national politics. He spent over 25 years at The Washington Post.