Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Does Obama’s Low Approval Hurt the 2014 House and Senate Races?

Signals are mixed if next year could be good for House and Senate Democrats. The latest generic ballot test has Democrats in the lead by 4 points. Democrats have run superior campaigns in recent years and have much refined their ability to blame Republicans for Washington’s gridlock.

But the question is: At what point does President Obama’s negative approval rating begin to hurt the entire Democratic ticket?

As pointed out on June 25 in a response blog post to Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, “Mellman is wrong, Obama is losing clout,” Obama’s polls are headed down due to the run of controversies, lack of accomplishments and the wave of foreign policy challenges. Mellman argued that most of Obama’s approval ratings at that time were at about 50 percent, and due to polarization, there was a floor he could fall below. Today, Obama is hanging on to 45 percent, but some new polls are lower. His negative performance rating is now at 49 percent, but a week ago, it was 51 percent. He is now a net 4 points to the downside.

Although these numbers are well above George W. Bush’s weak approval in 2006 when the House went Democratic for the first time since the 1994 Gingrich revolution, Obama’s numbers are similar to his approval (3 to 5 points negative) in the September to November 2010 period when Republicans recaptured the House.

There is, of course, still time for Obama to recover before November 2014, but if it gets much worse, watch Democrats have trouble in recruitment and fundraising, and some candidates, including incumbents in competitive state re-elections, begin to shy away from Obama.

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