If American voters had to be trapped on a desert island with someone, chances are they would pick a Democrat. A new Pew Research poll of more than 2,000 Americans, most of them registered voters, found that Democrats are generally considered more honest, empathetic, and cooperative than Republicans. But the Pew data suggests those aren’t necessarily the traits voters are looking for in the party running the government.
The poll, released Thursday, found neither party terribly popular with the electorate, but gave the GOP an edge on most major issues other than healthcare, and a 42 percent to 39 percent advantage on which party is “can better manage the federal government.”
Asked which party could do a better job on a series of policy areas (terrorism, the budget deficit, the economy, immigration and healthcare), neither won a simple majority in any category. But the GOP came out on top in four of the five. Republicans had a 17 percent point advantage on terrorism (47-30) and a 15 percent point advantage on the deficit (48-33.)
Republicans earned a 6-point cushion on the economy and a 4-point cushion on immigration. Asked about healthcare, voters preferred Democrats 46 percent to 40 percent.
If there is a puzzling aspect to the poll, it’s that while respondents expressed a general preference for specific Republican policy positions, when asked the general question, which party is “more concerned about the needs of people like me,” the Democrats won going away, with a 21-point advantage (54-33.) Democrats were also seen as far more willing to cooperate with the other party to get things done (50-28) and were seen as more honest and ethical (41-33.)
In general, the public simply disapproves of the GOP. The party has a 54 percent disapproval rating versus a 38 percent approval rating. While not exactly impressive, the Democrats are at least keeping their collective head above water, if only barely, with a 47 percent approval, 46 percent disapproval score.
In truth, according to Pew’s analysis, nobody’s really happy:
“This year’s elections, like the previous two midterms, will take place against a backdrop of deep public dissatisfaction with national conditions. Just 29 percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the country; more than twice as many (65 percent) are dissatisfied. That is on par with levels of dissatisfaction before the 2010 and 2006 midterms. Views of the nation’s economy are far less gloomy than they were four years ago; nonetheless, ratings for the economy remain highly negative, with 78% saying conditions are only fair or poor.”
The findings in the poll released Thursday seem somewhat at odds with another survey, from the Wall Street Journal and NBC News, which last week found that registered voters, as a whole, would like to see Democrats in charge of Congress, but that among those likely to actually vote, Republicans still held the advantage.
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